Nigel Farage accused of running scared by Tories after overnight U-turn on Newark by-election

Deputy Political Editor

Nigel Farage faced ridicule from Conservative MPs today after he ruled out of standing for the Ukip in the Newark by-election.

The Ukip leader argued that his candidature would be a distraction from his party’s drive for votes in next month’s European parliamentary elections.

He also said he had no local links with the Nottinghamshire constituency, where the Tories will defend a 16,000-plus majority following Patrick Mercer’s resignation over cash-for-questions allegations.

But his explanation was mocked by a series of Conservative MPs who took to twitter to accuse him of losing his nerve.

Ben Wallace, the MP for Lancaster and Wyre, said: “That faint clucking you can here in the distance is Nigel Farage...chicken!”

Mark Garnier, the MP for Wyre Forest, tweeted: “Nigel Farage and the Newark by-election: Man or mouse...? Pass the cheese!!! Squeek squeek...”

The former Tory vice-chairman Michael Fabricant said: “Nigel Farage is such a tease! (Or is he like G.Brown - scared of an uncertain election?) In any event, he now says he won't stand in Newark.”

The Ukip leader had keep Westminster guessing overnight over his intentions following Mr Mercer’s announcement yesterday evening that he was quitting.

 

He ended the suspense this morning, telling the BBC: “I don't want to do anything that deflects from the European election campaign, so I am not going to stand in this by-election.

“I want to focus the next three weeks on winning the European elections.”

He said: “It was only 12 hours ago that Patrick Mercer stood down, so I haven't had long to think about it. But I have thought about it and we are just over three weeks away from a European election at which I think Ukip can cause an earthquake in British politics from which we can go on and not just win one parliamentary seat, but quite a lot of parliamentary seats”

The Ukip leader said: “I don't have any links with the East Midlands, I would just look like an opportunist and I don't think that would work.”

But he added: “We will fight the Newark by-election and fight it damned hard and get a good local candidate.

”But we will also, over the course of the summer, be targeting two or three dozen seats for the general election next year. This party isn't about one politician, it's not about one man, it's not about one by-election, it's about a nationwide political movement.“

Mr Farage denied that his decision not to gamble on a run at the Newark seat revealed a lack of courage.

”I think I have shown some courage over the years. I have helped take this party from nothing into a position where last Sunday it was leading the opinion polls in a national election.

“It's about choosing the right battles, it's about prioritising.

”I know that if I had said yes to standing in Newark the next three weeks would be dominated by 'am I going to win, am I not going to win' and we wouldn't be talking about open door immigration, EU membership, most of our laws being made somewhere else and the issues on which I want us to win the European election.“

He added that there would be ”pressure and splits within the Conservative Party“ after the European elections and ”this may not be the last by-election that comes up between now and next May“.

On BBC Radio 4's Today programme he added: ”I'm a fighter, I'm a warrior but you have to pick your battles in life.“

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teaching Assistant

£12024: Randstad Education Leeds: Teaching Assistant September 2014 start - te...

Physics Teacher

£130 - £162 per day + UPS: Randstad Education Hull: Physics Teacher Long Term ...

IT Technician (1st/2nd line support) - Leatherhead, Surrey

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Technician (1st/2nd line support)...

Primary Teacher EYFS, KS1 and KS2

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn