Leading British eurosceptic Nigel Farage has launched a new political party with a promise of a “democratic revolution” in UK politics, beginning with the European Parliament elections in May.
The Brexit Party has 70 candidates and sees the upcoming elections, which begin on May 23, as a “first step”, Farage said at the launch event in the English city of Coventry on Friday.
“This party is not here just to fight the European elections. This party is not just to express our anger … We will change politics for good,” Farage told assembled supporters in the city, which backed Brexit by a large majority in the 2016 referendum.
“We are a great nation and a great people, but we are being held back by weak leadership in Westminster. The time to change this is now,” he said.
Farage, a current Member of the European Parliament and former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), was one of the leading lights of the campaign for the UK to leave the European Union before the divisive referendum.
Less than a fortnight after the vote, which saw Britons choose to leave the bloc by a slim majority, Farage resigned as UKIP leader, saying he had “done his bit” to get the UK out of the EU.
Farage said on Friday that he will stand for the Brexit Party in the European Parliament elections, along with several other candidates including Annunziata Rees-Mogg, the sister of prominent pro-Brexit Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg.
The emergence of Farage’s new party comes at a time with the UK’s political system is facing unprecedented strain from Brexit negotiations.
Farage on Friday said British voters have been betrayed by Prime Minister Theresa May‘s failure to secure a deal to withdraw the country from the EU, nearly three years on from the Brexit referendum.
On Wednesday, May and the EU agreed to a longer extension to the UK’s exit that could run until October 31, requiring the UK to field candidates in the European Parliament election.
“I genuinely believe right now this nation, we are lions led by donkeys,” Farage said. “We are a great nation and a great people but we are being held back by weak leadership in Westminster. The time to change this is now”.
In February several pro-European MPs broke ranks with the ruling Conservative and opposition Labour parties to form a new group. Initially known as the Independent Group, it has rebranded as the Change UK political party and commands 11 seats in the UK parliament.
Its aim is to keep the UK in the EU by forcing a second referendum that includes the option of reversing the first one’s result.
Labour and the Conservatives are currently involved in controversial cross-party negotiations, which have seen several Conservative MPs resign.
For its part, Labour is splintered over whether to hold a second referendum.