Farage Enters Parliament: Reform UK Team Arrive in Westminster For First Time

Nigel Farage / X

Nigel Farage made history on Tuesday as he entered Parliament as head of the group of five newly elected members of Reform UK, 30 years after he first challenged a UK election.

The UK Parliament’s House of Commons will elect a speaker and then swear in members on Tuesday afternoon, its new cohort having been summoned to meet for the first time after last week’s General Election. For the first time that body of 650 will include a Nigel Farage-led bloc, his first Parliamentary seat since the United Kingdom left the European Union, terminating the Brussels seat Mr Farage had represented for over 20 years.

Mr Farage was elected last week for the seaside-constituency of Clacton with 21,225 votes, a majority of 8,405 over the second-place challenger, the Conservative Party candidate. Other new Reform Party MPs are party chairman Richard Tice, elected last week for Boston and Skegness, also a coastal community, Rupert Lowe for coastal constituency Greater Yarmouth, and James McMurdock representing South Basildon and East Thurrock on the Thames. Returning to Parliament is Lee Anderson, formerly of the Conservative Party and of the Labour Party before that.

(left to right) Reform UK MP, Lee Anderson, Reform UK leader, Nigel Farage, Reform UK MP, Rupert Lowe, Reform UK chairman, Richard Tice, and Reform UK MP, James McMurdock, arrive at the House of Commons in Westminster, central London. Picture date: Tuesday July 9, 2024. (Photo by Maja Smiejkowska/PA Images via Getty Images)

(Front row, left to right) Reform UK MP Lee Anderson, Reform UK leader Nigel Farage, and (second row, left to right) Reform UK MPs Rupert Lowe and James McMurdock arrive at the House of Commons in Westminster, central London. Picture date: Tuesday July 9, 2024. (Photo by Maja Smiejkowska/PA Images via Getty Images)

Anderson had defected to Reform earlier this year, having been a Conservative Party co-chair. Last week’s election confirmed his mandate to represent the people of Ashfield, in England’s East Midlands, under the banner of a new party. At the time of his defection, former coal miner and blue-collar small-c conservative Mr Anderson complained he and people like him had been left behind by the progressive drift of the establishment parties, and said “I want my country back”.

The election to Parliament of Mr Farage is the latest development in a decades-long political career as the leader of the Brexit movement. While Mr Farage sat in the Brussels Parliament as a protest against Britain’s membership of the European Union for over 20 years, he has never sat in Westminster before, despite having stood for election unsuccessfully seven times since 1994. Mr Farage has maintained the majority of those candidacies were protests and meant to raise the profile of UKIP, rather than seriously make a bid for Westminster, but insisted his 2015 run for South Thanet was serious, and was confounded by a dirty tricks campaign by the Conservatives.

As it is, one Conservative activist was convicted by a court for breaking electoral rules in that contest, over huge overspending by the Conservative campaign against Mr Farage.

The group of five arrived at Parliament on Tuesday morning flanked by private security — a necessary step given the repeated physical attacks against Mr Farage by activists — and received their Parliamentary Passes. The first Parliamentary business will take place on Tuesday afternoon.

Speaking outside Parliament, Mr Farage reflected: “on the way in this morning I drove past my old school, and I remember in September 1974 walking into this great big historic place and thinking ‘gosh’, well I’m a few years older now”.

The electoral success for Mr Farage appears to have been a boon for the Reform Party’s recruitment of new members, and important element of Farage’s strategy to transform the body into an actual, functioning national party. Having gone from a hibernating shell to winning the third-highest number of votes in just weeks this past month, Mr Farage says he wants to democratise the entity and create a national branch structure, challenging for local government and councils and preparing to contest the next national election in 2029.

The party “has more than doubled its membership in the last 5 weeks”, Mr Farage has boasted, claiming one new member a minute. Speaking last week on the fight ahead, Mr Farage had said:

…above all what we are going to do from today is we are going to professionalise the party, we are going to democratise the party… we have a huge job. Literally, we don’t even have a branch structure around the country. We’ve got so much to do, all of us, over the course of the next few months. We’re going to focus on what we’re doing, we’re going to focus on going after the Labour vote. We’re going to focus on vetting candidates for the English County Council elections that come up next year, so we know what we’re all about.

I said this is going to be the first step on a very, very big journey. This was a five-year plan. It is a five-year plan. I believe with structure, funding, professionalism, we can be in a very, very serious position to contest the 2029 General Election… if you think of the resources we had just a few short weeks ago, the lack of big branch structure, very little money. What we’ve done in a space of a few weeks is nothing short of remarkable, and I promise you this is just the beginning of something very, very big indeed.


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