The prominent Leave donor and Boris Johnson backer Crispin Odey has said he disagrees with Arron Banks’ call this morning for the Brexit Party to stand aside in more seats to help achieve a Conservative victory. Odey, a billionaire hedge fund manager who has donated large sums to the Conservatives, Ukip and Vote Leave, was one of the main sponsors of Boris Johnson’s campaign for the Tory leadership.
This morning, his fellow Leave donor, Banks (known as the “Bad Boy of Brexit”), called on Nigel Farage to withdraw Brexit Party candidates from more seats to avoid the risk of splitting the Leave vote in 150 Conservative target seats. Earlier this week, Farage announced that his party would not stand in the 317 seats won by the Conservatives at the last election. Banks warned that there were only “48 hours to save Brexit”, and urged Farage to try to “smash Labour in 40 or so seats where the Tories are nowhere”.
This morning, Odey told the New Statesman he flatly disagrees with Banks’ intervention and does not agree that the Brexit Party should pull more candidates. His curt dismissal of Banks’ position supports the view that there is little prospect of Farage standing down more candidates, after his announcement this week that the Brexit Party would not contest Conservative-held seats.
Farage is facing a backlash in both directions over his decision to pull candidates: some party members complain that candidates have been “dropped like stones”, while others fear, like Banks, that continuing to stand in Conservative targets will deprive Johnson of a majority.
Farage said this morning: “I’ve just gifted the Conservative Party nearly two dozen seats and I did it because I believe in Leave.”