Nigel Farage’s Reform UK will ‘pick’ Tory MPs, Lee Anderson warns

Lee Anderson has warned that Nigel Farage's Reform UK could “pick off” many Tory MPs and open the door to a Labor landslide.

The Tory deputy leader said Farage's party, formerly the Brexit Party, was a “threat”, adding that they were a “bigger threat to the country at the moment than Labour”.

The reform, which will be put to voters at a press conference in London on Wednesday, could split the vote in dozens of Tory seats, adding to the scale of a possible Labor election victory.

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He has vowed to fight the Tories across the country and leader Richard Tice, who took over from Farage in 2021, has vowed to have a “massive impact” at the upcoming election.

He has already helped derail two key Tory by-elections, with his share of the vote in Mid Bedfordshire and Tamworth larger than Labour's majorities in the seats.

And in a sign of growing Tory concern about the growth of the party, polled at 9 per cent, outspoken deputy leader Mr Anderson said: “They are a threat.”

He said GB News: “I have a lot of time for Nigel [Farage]…does fantastic things, but reform is a threat.

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“If Reform does elect many of us Conservative MPs at the next election, then what will happen is we will end up with a Labor government and a Labor government is the last thing I want.”

Mr Anderson went on to claim that a Labor government would drag Britain back into the European Union, despite Sir Keir Starmer ruling out rejoining the bloc.

Reform's much-hyped press conference could bring clarity to Mr Farage's role in the party ahead of the election later this year.

It is not known whether he will return as leader of the party, which he founded and controls, or whether he may return to a campaign role.

There is also speculation that Mr Farage could make his eighth bid for a seat in parliament.

Any return to the political front by Mr Farage would be seen as a further blow to the Tories' electoral hopes. Growing discontent among voters over rising net immigration and Rishi Sunak's failure to “stop the boats” opened the door for Mr Farage to attack the Tories from the right.

On Tuesday, Farage hit back at the government's attempts to “rush through” the backlog of asylum seekers by saying: “The Conservatives have failed us all.”

A week earlier he attacked Home Secretary James Cleverley, calling him a “fool” for celebrating the lack of small boat crossings on Christmas Day.

He added that the Conservatives “all deserve to lose your seats at the election”.

UK reform leader Richard Tice has rejected Lee Anderson's claim (Jonathan Brady/PA)

(PA file)

Mr Anderson said he “failed to see” where Reform could win any seats, but accepted that voters disillusioned with the Tories on immigration could flock to the party by the millions.

He added: “I will say this, it's – I'm not saying it's a one-man party, but it's the star is Nigel, he's doing a great job, but I think if they want any intrusions, then he's standing.

“He must be the leader of the party. He's got to stand for election because I mean, Richard Tice, I've got a lot of time for Richard, but I'm knocking on doors in Ashfield and nobody's ever heard of him.'