Nigel Farage has urged voters to elect at least some Brexit party candidates to “hold Boris Johnson to his word” during the launch of a slimline election policy platform based on political changes, lower immigration levels and spending funded by a “Brexit dividend”.
Launching what he described as a “contract with the people”, Farage promised his party would continue after the UK left the EU: “Brexit, for us, is just the beginning, not the end, of a much-needed political revolution.”
However, he declined to confirm he would stay as leader if the party failed to make a breakthrough on 12 December, saying he would continue to campaign, “whatever role it is in”.
Farage has faced a difficult week-and-a-half since he announced he would not stand for parliament and that his party would not contest 317 Conservative-won seats, seeing some subsequent dissent and a drop in the polls to about 7%.
But introducing the policy ideas in Westminster on Friday, having previously pledged not to publish a manifesto, he said the Brexit party was needed to prevent backsliding by Johnson over leaving the EU.
“Just eight months into our existence we have already changed the landscape of politics, and we will change it much more in the years to come,” Farage said.
“We need the Brexit party to hold Boris Johnson to his word. We need a Brexit party voice there, in the House of Commons, or we’re not going to get anything like what we voted for three and a half years ago.”
However, Farage has apparently redefined his definition of an acceptable Brexit. Using the term “clean-break Brexit”, which he has used as an alternative term for a no-deal departure, he indicated this referred to a Johnson-style free trade-type departure.
Asked about this, Farage said: “A clean-break Brexit is not to be aligned with every single new directive that gets ratified through the European institutions. A clean-break Brexit means you’re not under the auspices or jurisdiction of the European court of justice. There’s no change of definition.”
The policy platform outlined on Friday echoed many long-term Farage ideas, such as political changes, including the ability to force referendums on matters if 5 million people sign a petition. This would not allow the same subject to be voted on within 10 years, he added, thus preventing a new referendum on Brexit.
The 21-page document pledges significant spending on public services and infrastructure, with a planned £200bn spending pot based on an end of contributions to the EU, the halving of foreign aid and the scrapping of the HS2 rail project, among other areas.
The party would hope to reduce the cost of living by scrapping VAT on domestic fuel and reducing tariffs on imported food.
A slightly slim section on the environment calls for a primary focus on planting more trees. Speaking ahead of the launch, Farage told the Guardian he hoped to enlist Donald Trump in a global campaign to plant billions of trees.
On immigration, the party would aim for a 50,000 annual cap for net migration – Farage called this “a rough marker” – and a system of work permits for short-staffed sectors, such as the NHS.
Farage insisted this amounted to a coherent platform beyond the UK leaving the EU – “the Brexit party are a party of the new radicals. That is who we are” – but he declined to commit to leading the party in the long term.
There is speculation Farage is keen to step down as leader and return to the lucrative US news talkshow circuit. He has recently made more than €30,000 (£26,000) a month in extra earnings beyond his MEP’s salary.
“I am absolutely committed to the complete reform of our political system,” Farage said. “The more I see it at first hand, the more awful I think it is.
“Whatever role it is in, I’m going to go on campaigning in this country on many of the things that are there in that document.”