Northern Ireland

Reform UK will not stand in north as party was too late to register

The party will back TUV candidates following partnership announced earlier this year

Wellingborough candidate Ben Habib hailed Reform’s best performance at a by-election as ‘remarkable’
Reform UK deputy leader Ben Habib. (Joe Giddens/PA)

Reform UK will not stand any candidates in the north in the upcoming General Election as it failed to register as a political party in the region in time.

The party founded by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage will instead back TUV candidates across the north, after the two parties announced a formal partnership for the election earlier this year.

Reform’s deputy leader Ben Habib said on Thursday that the party applied to register as a party in Northern Ireland after the partnership with Jim Allister’s TUV was announced in March, along with a plan to stand “agreed candidates” in constituencies.

TUV conference at the Ross Park Hotel near Ballymena
Ben Habib pictured at the TUV conference in March. PICTURE: PRESSEYE/STEPHEN HAMILTON (I Presseye/Stephen Hamilton/ Presseye/Stephen Hamilton)

Mr Habib said the application process would not be completed in time after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the election on Wednesday for July 4.

He told the BBC’s Evening Extra show it had been the intention of Reform to have candidates standing in some constituencies under the Reform UK banner.

He said the “Plan B” was that he would “personally make whatever funds are necessary” available to the TUV “in order to mount the campaign that we need to reveal and dispose of the DUP that have become the Tories of Northern Ireland”.

When pressed on the total sum offered to the TUV, Mr Habib said it was “confidential between Jim (Allister) and myself”.

The Reform deputy leader, who as a Brexit Party MEP in 2020 voted in favour of the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement that contained the Northern Ireland Protocol, said there had previously been “no need” for Reform UK to stand in Northern Ireland due to the DUP, which he supported and donated to during their 2022 Stormont Assembly election campaign.

A spokesperson for the TUV said it and Reform “have always been clear that the nature of our arrangement could result in all candidates in this election being TUV candidates if the protracted registration process took too long”.

They added: “This will be a joint TUV/Reform UK campaign with every candidate having the backing of each party.”