LONDON — Nigel Farage, who has fared better in fighting for Brexit than in winning elections, has said he will not run for a seat in Parliament in Britain’s general election in December. But he vowed to lead his Brexit Party in a vigorous campaign that could threaten Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Farage said in a BBC interview broadcast Sunday that he had concluded that he could advance the country’s exit from the European Union better by campaigning on behalf of his populist party’s other candidates than by contesting a seat himself.
“I don’t want to be in politics for the rest of my life,” Farage said, adding that he had thought “very hard about this.”
By giving up his own ambitions for Parliament, Farage, who has made much of his friendship with President Donald Trump, could prove to be a bigger disruptive force in the election — and a bigger thorn in Johnson’s side — than if he were running himself.
He said he planned to campaign aggressively across the country against Johnson’s Brexit agreement, which is a central plank of the prime minister’s election manifesto and that of his Conservative Party.
Farage’s fierce criticism of Johnson’s deal, as well as his constant reminders that the prime minister broke his promise to leave the European Union by Oct. 31, could weaken the Conservatives by splitting the pro-Brexit vote and tipping some close seats to the opposition Labor Party.
“If Boris Johnson was going for a genuine Brexit, we wouldn’t need to fight against him in this election,” Farage said in the BBC interview. “If Boris is determined to stick to this new EU treaty, then that is not Brexit.”
Johnson, in a separate interview, apologized Sunday for failing to achieve Brexit by the deadline of Oct. 31, as he had promised he would.
But he blamed Parliament for not approving the agreement he had negotiated with the European Union, which approved a Brexit extension to Jan. 31.
Some political commentators said Farage, who spent two decades promoting Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union and has been one of the loudest pro-Brexit voices since the 2016 referendum, was declining to run in the December election because he could not win.
Farage ran unsuccessfully for Parliament seven times as a candidate for the U.K. Independence Party. He resigned as leader in 2016, left the party altogether in 2018 and has been leader of the Brexit Party since March. He has been elected to the European Parliament four times as a representative from Southeast England.
On Thursday, he welcomed a call from Trump to his London radio show, during which Trump claimed that Johnson’s deal with Brussels would make it impossible for Britain to negotiate a trade agreement with the United States — one of the prime selling points of Johnson’s Brexit policy.
The president also urged Johnson to ally with Farage in a pro-Brexit coalition. Four parties are competing in the Dec. 12 election, and the winning margins are likely to be narrow.
But Johnson has rebuffed Farage’s proposal of an alliance between the Brexit and Conservative parties because Farage has made it contingent on the prime minister’s dropping his Brexit agreement. Abandoning the agreement, Johnson said, would put the Labor leader, Jeremy Corbyn, in 10 Downing St.
Without an alliance, Farage has said, the party will field 600 candidates, several of whom could jeopardize Conservative-held seats in closely fought districts.