Reform UK rules out deal with Tories as Nigel Farage ducks bid to become MP

Reform UK has “categorically” rejected a deal with the Tories in the 2024 general election as Nigel Farage looks set to make an eighth bid to become an MP.

In a move that piles even more pressure on Rishi Sunak, Reform leader Richard Tice has promised to field candidates in every constituency in England, Wales and Scotland.

Speaking at the party's election campaign on Wednesday, he insisted Reform would not do a deal with the Conservatives under any circumstances. In 2019 the group formerly known as the Brexit Party withdrew hundreds of candidates to help Boris Johnson secure a majority.

Richard Tice sets out Reform UK's stand ahead of the general election

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Mr Tice gave the strongest hint yet that his predecessor Mr Farage will take a leading role in the election campaign, although the latter was notably absent from the start.

“He still assesses that … a good poker player doesn't show his hand too early,” Mr Tice told reporters. Discussions were continuing about what role Mr Farage might take, he said, although it looked increasingly unlikely that he would make an eighth bid to become an MP. said Mr. Tice GB News Mr Farage's candidacy was “the least likely”.

The Conservatives have been warned they risk losing dozens of seats if Reform is rolled out across the country in elections due sometime this year. The return of Mr Farage, back to Britain after a term in office I'm a celebrity… Get me out of here could provide a significant boost in the polls for Reform, adding to Tory losses.

Nigel Farage after returning from a term I'm a celebrity… Get me out of here

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The new party hopes to capitalize on growing anger over record levels of legal immigration and Mr Sunak's failure to deliver on his pledge to “stop the boats” of migrants crossing the Channel.

At a conference dedicated to voters stalling Reform, leader Mr Tice blasted Mr Sunak as a failure and said the Tories were tearing Britain apart.

Elaborating on Farage's Brexit victory speech to the European Parliament, Mr Tice said that when he launched Reform, “the Tories laughed at me”. “They're not laughing now,” he added.

Luke Trill, director of polling More in Common, said Reform's campaign could see the Tories lose more than 30 extra seats.

He said The independent: “Reform could well be the difference between a hung parliament and a Labor majority.”

The party currently polls at around 9 per cent and has already helped derail two key Tory by-elections, with its share of the vote in Mid Bedfordshire and Tamworth larger than Labour's majorities in the seats.

On Tuesday, outspoken Tory deputy leader Lee Anderson admitted he feared Reform would “pick off” dozens of Tory MPs, opening the door to a Labor landslide.

He warned that Farage's party was a threat, adding that it was “a bigger threat to the country at the moment than Labour”.

Farage's return to the political front line could cause further electoral woes for Rishi Sunak

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Mr Tice said his Tory rival was “a good guy” but “he's terrified we're going to put him out of a job”. He urged top Tories to ditch the “toxic” party and “move over” to Reform.

And Mr Tice revealed that party figures, from councilors to donors, are in talks with Reform over their departure from the party ahead of the general election. “A lot of very unhappy ex-Tory donors are picking up the phone and saying ‘how can I help?' he added.

Responding after Mr Tice's press conference, Tory chairman Richard Holden said a vote for Reform would only strengthen Labour's hand and defended the Conservatives as “focused on long-term decisions for the country”.

Elsewhere at the conference, Mr Tice confirmed his deputy leader Ben Habib will contest the Wellingborough by-election for the party following the withdrawal of scandal-hit MP Peter Bone.

Reform claimed a Labor victory would be ‘Starmaggedon', channeling the late 1990s action movie poster

(Reform UK)

Mr Bown held the Tory seat of Northamptonshire in 2019 with 18,540 more votes than second-placed Labour.

Mr Habib told the conference: “The reason I'm in Wellingborough is because it's not enough to just beat the Tories … we have to lead and get seats in Parliament.”

He set a target for the party to win a dozen or more seats in the next general election, adding that people are extremely upset with the current government. Reform said it would announce its candidates for the general election next month.

The party also took aim at Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer, branding “Starmergeddon” a “threat near you in 2024”. The reform seeks to attack Labor as well as the Tories amid fears it risks handing Sir Keir the keys to Downing Street.