UK

Farage predicts 6m Reform votes as he pitches himself as ‘voice of opposition’

The Reform UK leader said a poll showing his party slightly ahead of the Tories marked an ‘inflection point’ in the campaign.

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage has sought to pitch himself as the ‘voice of opposition’ to Labour
Reform UK leader Nigel Farage has sought to pitch himself as the ‘voice of opposition’ to Labour (James Manning/PA)

Nigel Farage has said he believes Reform UK could get more than six million votes in the General Election as he insisted he could trounce the “hopelessly split” Tory party to be the “voice of opposition” to Labour.

The Reform UK leader also hailed as an “inflection point” an opinion poll that showed his party edging ahead of the Conservatives.

At a London press conference called to celebrate the YouGov poll, Mr Farage said: “We are not going to get four million votes, we’re not going to get five million votes, we’re going to get a very, very substantial number of votes.

“I genuinely think we can get over six million votes. I don’t know where the ceiling is.”

That total would be significantly more than the 3.9 million votes his former party, Ukip, received under his leadership in 2015, when it secured 12.6% of the vote.

Mr Farage went on to admit that Reform is “not as organised and developed as the Liberal Democrats” and could only capitalise on its growing support and “start to break through with seats” by winning more than six million votes.

A YouGov survey commissioned by The Times newspaper had Mr Farage’s party at 19% and the Conservatives on 18% in voting intention, in a crossover moment which is the latest blow to Tory hopes of returning to government.

However, pollsters caveated that Reform’s lead was within the margin of error, and five other polls published in the past 24 hours all showed Mr Farage’s outfit trailing the Conservatives.

Rishi Sunak insisted that voting for Reform UK would be “handing Labour a blank cheque” as he played down the YouGov survey.

The Prime Minister predicted a comeback as he stressed “we are only halfway through this election” and the choice between the Tories and Labour will “crystallise for people between now and polling day”.

Mr Sunak, who was taking a break from the campaign trail to meet world leaders in Italy, told reporters at the G7 summit in Puglia: “We are only halfway through this election, so I’m still fighting very hard for every vote.

“If that poll was replicated on July 4, it would be handing Labour a blank cheque to tax everyone, tax their home, their pension, their car, their family, and I’ll be fighting very hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.

“And, actually, when I’ve been out and about talking to people, they do understand that a vote for anyone who is not a Conservative candidate is just a vote to put Keir Starmer in No 10.”

Rishi Sunak and Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni at the G7 summit in Italy
Rishi Sunak and Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni at the G7 summit in Italy (Christopher Furlong/PA)

He added that there is a “massive difference” between Labour and the Tories, claiming that Labour would “raise the tax burden to the highest level in this country’s history” after Sir Keir’s party launched its manifesto on Thursday.

“I think that choice will crystallise for people between now and polling day,” the Prime Minister said.

But at his press conference later on Friday, Mr Farage claimed Reform is “well ahead” of the Conservatives in several regions including the North East, the North West, the East Midlands, in the West Midlands, as well as in the so-called red wall.

“The inflection point means that, actually, if you vote Conservative in the red wall, you will almost certainly get Labour. A Conservative vote in the red wall is now a wasted vote,” the arch Brexiteer said.

He also said: “It isn’t going to be Rishi Sunak leading the opposition – I mean, he’ll probably be in California anyway.

“The Conservatives will choose someone and they probably won’t last very long. And they can’t provide opposition because they are hopelessly split down the middle on policy …

“I put it to you that I believe I can be that voice of opposition.”

Nigel Farage said the Tories could not be the opposition to Labour because they are ‘hopelessly split down the middle on policy’
Nigel Farage said the Tories could not be the opposition to Labour because they are ‘hopelessly split down the middle on policy’ (James Manning/PA)

Mr Farage said Tory former minister Dame Andrea Jenkyns’ use of a photo of him on her election campaign leaflet – for which she did not ask his permission – “shows you that depth of division that exists within the Conservative Party”.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting, meanwhile, said the growth of Reform “is just the latest chapter in the Conservative Party’s psychodrama”, pointing to Dame Andrea featuring Mr Farage on her campaign material instead of her own party leader.

Mr Streeting said during a visit to West Yorkshire that he hoped Mr Farage would not be elected as the MP for Clacton in Essex, adding: “One thing I would say to people about Nigel Farage is that he’s never been tested on actually delivering on the change he campaigns for.”

Elsewhere, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds met top bosses for breakfast to hear their views on Labour’s manifesto.

Leader Sir Keir will face a grilling from BBC journalist Nick Robinson in the latest Panorama election interview to be broadcast on Friday evening.

Lib Dem deputy leader Daisy Cooper visited the east of England, as her party promotes its plans for a national food strategy.