NIGEL Farage is targetting Tory MPs in the north east of Scotland as well as the Conservative incumbent in the party’s most marginal constituency in a strategy which may help the SNP regain a raft of seats, The National can reveal.

The Brexit Party yesterday confirmed Sebastian Leslie and Arthur Durance as its candidates for Gordon and Moray where the Tories ousted Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson in 2017. It also confirmed it would be standing in Conservative held Angus as well as Banff and Buchan saying it would name its candidates there later.

Farage’s party will also stand in Stirling where Tory MP Stephen Kerr is defending the slimmest Conservative majority of just 148 over the SNP. Alyn Smith (below), the senior MEP, is the SNP candidate, while Marc Bozza is standing for Farage’s party.

The National: Alyn Smith will run against Marc BozzaAlyn Smith will run against Marc Bozza

A Brexit Party source said they would be fighting in all of Scotland’s 59 seats with a campaign appealing to Leave voters and attacking the deal Boris Johnson struck with the EU and what it believes would be its negative impact on the fishing industry.

“The view is quite simple. We believe Boris isn’t delivering a true Brexit and from the Scottish point of view you only need to look at fishing,” said the insider.

“Michael Gove must be incredibly embarrassed. The Tories have sold out the Scottish fishermen after claiming endlessly that fishing would be coming back to Scotland – this is going to rebound on the Tories very badly.”

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The source added: “If the Tories weren’t going to do the Brexit we – and 17.4 million people – voted for, we weren’t simply going to lie back and say we were going to only fight a few seats. We are fighting the lot.”

The National: Nigel Farage was unsuccessful in his attempts to partner with the ToriesNigel Farage was unsuccessful in his attempts to partner with the Tories

An SNP insider was upbeat when told of the Brexit Party’s challenge to the Tories in Scotland.

He told The National: “This will distract the Tories. We know they are already deeply uncomfortable trying to defend Boris Johnson’s deal but now they have the Brexit Party from the other end of the spectrum saying the deal is rubbish and that it’s not Brexit. It will cause confusion for the Tories. What’s not to like?”

The former SNP seats of Gordon, Angus, Moray and Banff and Buchan were won by the Conservatives in the 2017 snap poll as anti-independence and pro-Brexit voters in those areas swung behind the party then led by Ruth Davidson.

However, with the prospect of the Leave vote split next month the Tory gains from two years ago will be under threat – opening the door again to the SNP.

Gordon has the smallest Tory majority in the north east where Colin Clark is defending a majority of 2607 over the SNP. Kirstene Hair’s 2645 majority in Angus is the next smallest.

Pollster Mark Diffley said the Brexit Party’s decision to fight the Scottish north east seats could help the SNP.

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He said: “I suspect the SNP will be beneficiaries of the Brexit Party standing. There are a couple of caveats. One, is that there have not been too many Westminster voting intention polls in Scotland and secondly, there are SNP voters who voted Leave – so the Brexit Party could take votes from both the SNP and the Tories.

“However my sense is that they would be likely to take more votes from the Tories than the SNP which in the Tory/SNP marginals would benefit the SNP. Where there are small majorities in Gordon and Angus – of around 2500 – that would be more of a worry than where they have bigger majorities.”

The National: Jacob Rees-Mogg said The Brexit Party would hand votes over to LabourJacob Rees-Mogg said The Brexit Party would hand votes over to Labour

The Brexit Party leader offered to form a Leave election pact with the PM if he dropped his Brexit deal but Johnson last week rejected his offer.

Days later senior Cabinet ministers rounded on Farage in a bid to persuade him to back down from fielding 600 candidates against the Conservatives in the General Election.

Jacob Rees-Mogg and Therese Coffey said Farage risked handing victory to Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn and helping to permanently derail Britain’s departure from the European Union. But Farage dismissed the Tory attacks as “all the same stuff” he had heard in previous elections.

The SNP’s Smith said: “The people of Scotland have long since seen through the Brexit Party’s bizarre statements and know there is no good Brexit for Scotland. I look forward to taking the SNP’s positive message to the people of Scotland and nationwide.”

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David Duguid, Scottish Conservative MP for Banff and Buchan, said: “Our fishing communities know that it is only a Conservative government that can deliver Brexit. And voters across Scotland know that only the Scottish Conservatives are strong enough to beat the SNP. Boris Johnson has secured a deal with the European Union that will protect jobs, deliver an orderly departure from the EU and take back control over key areas like fishing. It is a deal endorsed by the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation and the Scottish Seafood Association – the key bodies representing the catching and processing sectors in Scotland. A vote for the Scottish Conservatives will ensure we can get that deal over the line and respect the result of the 2016 referendum at last”.

Farage announced on Sunday he will not be standing as a candidate.