Reform UK leader Richard Tice held a press conference in London this week (January 3), where he outlined the party’s plans to address Conservative failures at the next general election.
Described as “packed” but “rather soulless”, the conference enabled Tice to capitalise on public frustration around increased migration to the UK over recent years. He took the opportunity to criticise Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on his inability to “stop the boats” as previously promised.
Along with his condemnation of the Tories, the Reform UK leader announced that the party’s deputy leader, Ben Habib would be standing in the Wellingborough by-election, a decision which could prove instrumental to the Conservatives’ ability to maintain this seat.
In a strategic move during the December 2019 General Election, the Brexit Party (now Reform UK) removed hundreds of candidates from the running, to aid Boris Johnson in securing a majority. But relations between the two parties are no longer so amicable.
Tice argued the Conservatives are “terrified” of Reform UK as they ultimately pose a significant threat to those in power. He believes voters will take to the polls and “punish the Tories for breaking Britain”. Despite refusing to give reporters a number, Tice admitted to having discussions with “quite a lot” of Tory MPs and donors about their fears ahead of the next election.
Tice emphasised that under no circumstances would there be any “special deals” between Reform UK and the incumbents, to give way in certain constituencies and increase the likelihood that they would retain their seats. Its leader confirmed with absolute certainty that Reform UK would be standing everywhere, across England, Scotland, and Wales.
Polling organisation, More in Common, have predicted the Tories could lose over 30 additional seats. Their director, Luke Tryl, told The Independent that Reform UK “could well be the difference between a hung Parliament and a Labour majority”. Addressing this possibility, Reform UK described Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer, as a “threat” to voters in 2024.
It is rumoured that former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, is set to feature in the election campaign of Reform UK. His return would likely see a boost in poll numbers for the Party, further contributing to predicted Tory losses across the country. Although absent from the conference on Wednesday, Farage told the Guardian he considers himself “honorary president” of the Party and replied “never say never” when asked if he would be making a comeback.
Following Tice’s comments, Chairman of the Conservative Party, Richard Holden, warned the Public that “a vote for Reform will only strengthen Labour’s hand” and reiterated the government’s commitment to making important decisions for the country.
Deputy Chairman, Lee Anderson confirmed Tory fears that Reform UK would enable a Labour victory at the next election by “picking off” their current MPs. This has already happened at by-election campaigns in Mid Bedfordshire and Tamworth, where the Conservatives lost vital votes in 2023, paving the way for a Labour win.
Reform UK is currently polling at around 9%.
Edited by: Kaiyah Ellison
Photo credit: BBC
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