London, Nov 2 (PTI) Nigel Farage, the far-right leader best known for his very vocal campaign for Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU) over the years, has decided to rebrand his Brexit Party as a voice against the government’s coronavirus lockdown measures.
The party has applied to the UK’s Electoral Commission to change its name to Reform UK, which Farage and party chairman Richard Tice say will not only keep an eye on the ongoing post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU but also focus on other “pressing issues” facing the country.
'The government has dug itself into a hole [with coronavirus] and rather than admit its mistakes, it keeps on digging,” the leaders note in a joint email to supporters.
'The new national lockdown will result in more life-years lost than it hopes to save, as non-COVID patients with cancer, cardiac, lung and other illnesses have treatments delayed or cancelled again. Suicides are soaring. Businesses and jobs are being destroyed,' they say.
Farage and Tice say the UK should follow the Great Barrington Declaration, drafted by public health experts which calls for 'focused protection' for the elderly and other groups particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, while others continue to live relatively normally.
Their email reads: 'The rest of the population should, with simple hygiene measures and a dose of common sense, get on with life – this way we build immunity in the population.
“We must learn to live with the virus not hide in fear of it.' Farage had set up the Brexit Party ahead of last year's European Parliament elections, winning 29 seats.
In the December 2019 UK General Election, however, the party gained just 2 per cent of the vote and none of the 275 candidates it fielded won a seat. Prior to that election, Farage had announced the Brexit Party would change its name following the UK’s formal exit from the EU in January this year and focus on campaigning for changes in the electoral system.
Its change of name application to Reform UK is subject to the approval of the Electoral Commission.
It comes as England prepares for its second stay-at-home lockdown, to last four weeks from Thursday until at least December 2 in order to try and control the spread of coronavirus infections.
The move announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the weekend has attracted widespread backlash, including from backbench MPs within his own Conservative Party, over fears for the economy.
Meanwhile, the Opposition parties have accused the government of acting too late in locking down despite a sharp surge in COVID-19 cases in the country in recent weeks.
On Sunday, the UK recorded another 23,254 new confirmed cases of coronavirus and 162 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, taking its death toll to 46,717. PTI AK ZH ZH