Nigel Farage has vowed to put the “fear of God” into MPs as he announced the sister of Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg is to be a candidate for his new Brexit Party.
The former Ukip leader said Annunziata Rees-Mogg would be one of 70 candidates fielded by the party in next month’s elections to the European Parliament.
Speaking at a campaign launch event in Coventry, he said their “mission” was to lead a “democratic revolution” against a political class which had betrayed the voters over Brexit.
Ms Rees-Mogg, who twice stood unsuccessfully as a Tory general election candidate, said it was an opportunity for voters to show the politicians were not “our masters” but there to “do our bidding”.
Her brother, the chairman of the pro-Brexit Tory European Research Group, expressed his regret at her decision to leave the Conservatives.
“The Brexit Party is fortunate to have such a high calibre candidate but I am sorry that Annunziata has left the Conservative Party,” he said.
The recruitment of Ms Rees-Mogg represented a major publicity coup for Mr Farage as campaigning began for the European elections now due to take place on May 23 after EU leaders agreed a further six-month delay to Brexit.
She said it had not been an easy decision to leave a party which she had supported for more than 30 years “from Maggie Thatcher through to Theresa May”.
“I know which one I’d rather have representing us now,” she told cheering supporters.
She added: “The point at which our Prime Minister will not listen, not only to her membership, but will not listen to the people of her country… I can’t sit by and let her do it.
“We’ve got to rescue our democracy, we have got to show that the people of this country have a say in how we are run.”
Mr Farage said Britain had become a nation of “lions led by donkeys” and that the campaign marked the start of a fightback against the political class.
“I do believe that we can win these European elections and that we can again start to put the fear of God into our Members of Parliament in Westminster,” he said.
“They deserve nothing less than that after the way they’ve treated us over this betrayal.
He added: “Our task and our mission is to change politics for good.
“I said that if I ever did come back into the political fray, next time it would be no more Mr Nice Guy and I mean it. I am angry about what has happened.
“I said many years ago I wanted to cause an earthquake in British politics. Now what I am fighting for, and with your support what we will attempt to achieve, is a democratic revolution in British politics.”
The campaign launch will intensify the pressure on Mrs May, with many Tories fearing they will haemorrhage votes to the new party amid growing frustration with the deadlock in Parliament.
However, Mr Farage’s rhetoric alarmed some at Westminster at a time when MPs have reported growing numbers of personal threats in the highly charged atmosphere over Brexit.
Labour MP Stephen Kinnock tweeted: “You preach fear, hatred and division, Nigel. But the vast majority of the British people are crying out for a politics of hope, respect and community.
“We will face you down, and we will defeat you. Bring it.”
Mr Farage said small donors were funding a “rebirth of democracy” with more than £750,000 flowing into the party’s offers in just 10 days.
He said he had been “astonished by the quality” of people who had put themselves forward as Brexit Party candidates, with “thousands” applying to stand in future local and Westminster elections.