Farage: Tory Party may be dead and I can lead national opposition

The Reform UK leader also insisted he would not ‘surrender to the mob’ after being targeted by protesters on the campaign trail.

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage has suggested he could lead a national opposition to Labour after the General Election
Reform UK leader Nigel Farage has suggested he could lead a national opposition to Labour after the General Election (Aaron Chown/PA)

Nigel Farage said he wants to lead a “national opposition” to Labour if Sir Keir Starmer’s party wins the General Election.

The Reform UK leader, who hopes to engineer a reverse takeover of the Conservative Party to form a new centre-right grouping, said he believed the situation was already “close to a tipping point”.

Mr Farage also insisted he would not “surrender to the mob” after having a milkshake poured over him and objects thrown at him at campaign events.

And Mr Farage played down a series of revelations about his candidates’ behaviour, insisting he could not remove them because they were already on the ballot.

Mr Farage has suggested his political model is Canada’s Stephen Harper, who orchestrated a merger between Reform and their Conservative rivals to unite the right.

The Reform UK leader suggested the Conservative Party here “may well be dead, this may well be the end of their journey”.

He aid he believed “something new is going to emerge on the centre-right” of politics.

Nigel Farage said he would be prepared to lead a ‘national opposition’ to Labour
Nigel Farage said he would be prepared to lead a ‘national opposition’ to Labour (Aaron Chown/PA)

“Do I think I’m capable of leading a national opposition to a Labour Party with a big majority, where I can stand up and hold them to account on issues? Yes.”

He added: “I would be prepared to lead the centre-right in this country, a centre-right that stands up for small business, a centre-right that believes in borders, a centre-right that isn’t scared of standing up for the British people.”

Tory campaigning appears to have shifted to warn would-be Reform voters that Labour could end up with a landslide win, urging them to back the Conservatives instead in order to provide a large opposition force – although Rishi Sunak has insisted he has not given up on victory.

But Mr Farage pointed to a YouGov poll which put Reform on 17%, just one point behind the Conservatives to suggest: “I think we are very close to a tipping point.”

Other polls have given a wider gap between Mr Sunak’s party and Mr Farage’s, but the average of recent surveys suggests Reform are about eight points behind the Tories.

POLITICS Election Polls

Mr Farage has been offered additional private security by the Home Office after being targeted on the campaign trail.

He said he was more targeted than other politicians because he was prepared to walk into crowds and because he dared to “break the consensus” by talking about mass migration unlike his rivals.

He said: “They are scared of the mob. And do you know something? I am not going to surrender to the mob. Never.”

Asked if he was scared, he said: “I do get thoughtful but I cannot let these people win.

“If they win, our whole democracy is under threat.”

Mr Farage was challenged about a Times newspaper report that one-in-10 Reform candidates are “friends” on Facebook with Gary Raikes, leader of the fascist New British Union.

“I’d never heard of Gary Raikes until yesterday,” Mr Farage said.

“Don’t forget, I’ve come in right at the last minute, we have not had time to do full vetting of candidates. It’s been impossible for us.”

But he added: “Not all of our candidates have been to Eton, not all of our candidates have been to Oxford, not all of our candidates are part of the London set.

“And people like things on Facebook without having a clue where they come from.”

Asked about Ian Gribbin, the party’s candidate in Bexhill and Battle, who has said that Britain should have “taken Hitler up on his offer of neutrality” instead of fighting the Nazis in the Second World War, Mr Farage said it was a “stupid thing to say”.

But he suggested there would be no disciplinary response: “What can you do? His name’s on the ballot paper, I can’t remove it.”