• Monday, July 22, 2024

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Sunak says a vote for Reform gifts Labour the election

Farage’s return to politics has divided right-of-centre voters, undermining Sunak’s chances of winning an election already predicted to favour the Labour Party.

A YouGov poll on Thursday showed Reform UK at 19 per cent, up from 17 per cent, while the Conservative Party remained at 18 per cent. (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Vivek Mishra

Rishi Sunak warned on Friday that voting for Nigel Farage’s Reform UK party would lead to an electoral victory for Labour, following a poll that placed the right-wing group ahead of Sunak’s Conservatives for the first time.

Nigel Farage, known for his successful campaign for Brexit, leads the Reform UK party, which originated as the Brexit Party in 2018. Farage’s return to politics has divided right-of-centre voters, undermining Sunak’s chances of winning an election already predicted to favour the Labour Party.

A YouGov poll on Thursday showed Reform UK at 19 per cent, up from 17 per cent, while the Conservative Party remained at 18 per cent. Labour, led by Keir Starmer, topped the poll with 37 per cent.

“If this poll was replicated it would hand a blank cheque to Labour,” Sunak said in Italy, where he is attending the G7 summit, as reported by British media. “Ultimately, a vote for anyone who is not a Conservative candidate makes it more likely that Keir Starmer is in No 10.”

Farage claimed his party had made a “phenomenal” start and positioned itself as the real opposition to Labour. He predicted that Reform’s results would surpass the 4 million votes his previous party, UKIP, received in the 2015 election.

“I genuinely think we can get over 6 million votes. I don’t know where the ceiling is,” he said at a press conference on Friday.

In 2019, the Conservatives won 14 million votes, while Labour received 10 million. However, in the UK’s first-past-the-post system, winning millions of votes does not necessarily equate to winning seats in parliament.

Labour emphasised that Farage, who has unsuccessfully run for parliament seven times, should not be underestimated. “In terms of Labour versus Reform, we’re going to take them on in the battle of ideas and arguments,” said Labour’s health policy chief Wes Streeting to Sky News.

Despite some polls showing the Conservatives further ahead of Reform, most indicate a rise in support for Farage’s party since he took over. Polling expert John Curtice told the BBC, “Although it may not be the case that Reform are ahead … on average they might still be about four or five points behind – this is still bad news for the Conservatives.”

Farage criticised the first-past-the-post system as “outdated” and did not specify a target for the number of seats his party aims to win. He noted that while Reform’s support is spread evenly across the country, this may not translate into many parliamentary seats.

“Whatever we do, we may not get the number of seats we deserve,” Farage said. “But are we going to win seats in parliament? Yes. How many? … we’ve got momentum behind us and there’s three long weeks to go.”

(Reuters)

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