Three British members of European Parliament resigned from the Brexit Party Thursday, vowing to back Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s EU withdrawal plan and calling on Britons to vote Conservative in next week’s general election.
Annunziata Rees-Mogg, Lance Forman and Lucy Harris joined former Brexit Party MEP John Longworth in announcing their decision to exit the party, and instead help the Conservative Party gain a majority in the House of Commons and back Johnson’s EU withdrawal agreement.
The resignations came as a blow to Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who opposes Johnson’s deal and instead wants a “clean Brexit” in which Britain leave the bloc under World Trade Organization rules. Farage’s party is now polling at around 3 percent a week ahead of the Dec. 12 vote.
Britain is scheduled to leave the 28-member alliance on Jan. 31.
Rees-Mogg, the sister of Conservative Party House of Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg, said she and the others had come around with Johnson’s EU proposal.
“While this deal is not perfect, it is sufficient to remove us from the gridlock,” she said.
Longworth, who was sacked from the party Wednesday, said he disagrees with Farage’s strategy to run candidates in 274 Labor Party-held seats — a move he said would only result in splitting support for leaving the EU and allow a Labor Party coalition into government.
“We are now recommending that all Brexit supporters now vote Conservative,” he said.
Farage reacted angrily at Thursday’s development, saying the resigning members “don’t seem to understand that we both saved the Conservative Party from large-scale losses” to Liberal Democrats in southern and southwestern Britain.