The Brexit Party paraded 100 prospective MPs in front of a 5,500-strong crowd on Sunday – but refused to name any of the candidates.
Featuring fireworks and glowsticks, the party’s Big Vision Rally, at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre, had “the sort of razzmatazz more usually seen at a concert than a political rally”, says The Daily Telegraph.
The candidates paraded to the “booming sounds of High Hopes”, by indie band Panic! At The Disco, the newspaper reports.
“This fine group of people are but a start,” party leader Nigel Farage told the cheering audience. “There is a big message that Westminster needs to hear. We are not a protest movement.”
In a dig at Tory leadership runner Boris Johnson, he added: “Oh, and by the way, Mr Johnson, you can try if you want to, but I will not be put back in my box by you or anybody else.”
The Brexit Party was launched ahead of the European Parliament elections earlier this year, and won 29 of the UK’s 72 seats in Brussels. The Eurosceptic group has no representation in the House of Commons.
But Farage claims his party will be ready to fight all 650 Westminster seats in a snap election “by the end of next week”, warning the Conservatives and Labour that “this is the new politics”.
So what do we know about the candidates?
The 100 would-be MPs include teachers, civil engineers, an economist and a forklift truck driver, as well as “26 entrepreneurs, five Tory councillors, two people in showbiz and two UKIP councillors”, according to the Telegraph.
The Times identifies one candidate: Alan McCarthy, a sitting Labour councillor from Rochdale. He told the newspaper that after 40 years as a Labour member and 20 years as an elected official in an area that overwhelmingly voted Leave in 2016, his party “simply don’t represent the constituency any more”.
Why was nobody else named?
A party spokesperson “denied that the secrecy was down to concerns over their social media history, insisting that they had all been vetted”, says The Times. The party’s first leader, Catherine Blaiklock, was forced to resign in March over anti-Islam messages posted online before she took on the role.
However, this “point-blank” refusal to identify the candidates may raise questions about the “party’s readiness to fight a general election”, says the Telegraph.
Party sources said that all 650 general election candidates would be named en masse at a later date.
“So for now, the Brexit Party faithful had to make do with the pulsating excitement of seeing anonymous men and women walk, march and swagger on stage,” the paper concludes.