Farage-Founded Reform UK Party to Challenge Tories Every Seat in Next Election

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The Nigel Farage-founded Reform UK party has confirmed its intentions to put forward candidates in every parliamentary constituency in the next general election, which will likely cement the widely predicted defeat of Rishi Sunak’s Tory Party at the ballot box.

The conservative populist Reform UK party has already recruited some 440 candidates to stand for parliament in the next general election — which is expected to take place in the UK next year — and plans to have the other 190 candidates confirmed by the end of February so that the party can challenge in all 630 constituencies in England, Scotland and Wales, with the party opting not to compete in Northern Ireland, which is dominated by local parties.

Although the Farage-founded party has long stated its commitment to draft a full slate of candidates, Reform UK leader Richard Tice has written to top party members to give his “cast-iron guarantee” that there will be no scenario under which they will stand down to help the Tories defeat the resurgent Labour Party.

“In the 2024 election year, we will be ready whenever it comes, spring, summer or autumn. We will be standing in seats everywhere in England, Scotland and Wales. Many, including Tory MPs and commentators, still don’t believe us, but I have news for them: you are seriously underestimating our intent to have a massive impact in this coming election,” Tice told the Sunday Times.

The firm commitment from the Reform leader will serve to ameliorate concerns of a repeat of the 2019 general election, in which Reform UK, then known as the Brexit Party, stood down in key races under Nigel Farage to ensure a strong majority for Boris Johnson so that the Conservatives could finally complete the formal withdrawal from the European Union after years of delays.

While many within Reform and on the right more broadly believe that the Tories have failed to deliver on the promises of Brexit, there is a consensus that even if the anti-Brexit Labour Party were to secure victory in the next general election — as all current polling suggests — that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will not attempt to overturn the referendum and seek to re-enter into the EU.

Therefore, there is little motivation for the populist party to help the Conservatives avoid their expected defeat. Top Reform UK politician Ann Widdecombe said: “The situation is completely different now. In 2019 if we had not stood down Labour could have won and there was a real chance that Brexit could have been overturned. This time Brexit has been done — at least legally. Yes, Starmer will do some things that we don’t like, but the Conservatives are doing that anyway.”

Although it has taken some time for Reform UK to recover in the polls after it rebranded itself from the Brexit Party, it is now cracking double digits in multiple polls and has overtaken the Liberal Democrats as the third-largest party in the country.

Due to the United Kingdom’s anti-third party first-past-the-post voting system, in which seats in the parliament are not allocated upon the total number of votes won in the country — as is typical in many other European nations — but instead, on the performance of an individual candidate in a given race, it is expected that even with its strong base of support, Reform would not likely secure meaningful representation in the House of Commons.

Yet, having a challenger to the right will likely ensure defeat for the Tories in many Brexit-backing constituencies and the election as a whole. Projections from the More in Common polling firm predicted that by merely being on the ballot, Reform could cost the Conservatives 35 seats in the parliament.

However, such projections are made under the assumption that former party leader and Brexit hero Nigel Farage remains on the sidelines for the next election. Farage, who still serves as the honorary president of Reform, stepped back from frontline politics in 2020 after his decades-long campaign to see the UK leave the EU came to fruition.

With the Tories failing to deliver on key Brexit promises, principally on “taking back control” of the nation’s borders by lowering immigration, but also failing to take the opportunities independence afforded their government to lower taxes and regulations, there have been growing rumours surround a potential political comeback for Farage. Reform party insiders believe that a return of Farage would instantly increase their vote share by over 50 per cent and thereby ensure a massive defeat for the Tories.

There have also been suggestions that Farage could wait in the wings until after the Conservatives are crushed in the election and then present himself as a viable solution to revive the party and reconstitute it as a small-c conservative force in British politics, scuppering the past two decades of neo-liberalism in favour of a return to Thatcherite governance.

When pressed on Saturday as to whether he had any inside knowledge about a Farage comeback, Reform UK leader Richard Tice coyly stated: “Patience is a virtue”.

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