• Wednesday, July 24, 2024

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Reform UK pips Tories for first time in poll: YouGov

The new poll shows Nigel Farage’s Reform with 19 per cent support going into national elections next month, compared with Conservatives’ 18 per cent

Nigel Farage’s Reform UK Party overtook Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives in an opinion poll for the first time on June 13 ahead of Britain’s election on July 4. (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Shajil Kumar

THE CONSERVATIVE party of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has fallen behind the anti-immigration Reform UK party for the first time in a poll by YouGov, which called the development a “seismic shift”.

The new poll, conducted on Wednesday and Thursday, shows Brexiteer Nigel Farage’s Reform with 19 per cent support going into national elections next month, compared to the Conservatives’ 18 per cent. Both are trailing far behind the Labour party.

YouGov noted it was “worth keeping sight of the fact that these figures are well within the margin of error of one another — we will not be able to tell for some time whether Reform can sustain or improve their position relative to the Conservatives”.

Still, it added: “The fact that Nigel Farage’s party are neck and neck with the governing Conservatives is a seismic shift in the voting landscape.”

The poll showed the Labour party, led by Keir Starmer, still in a commanding lead at 37 per cent.

Given the hefty and sustained polling lead, Starmer is widely expected to become the next prime minister, but he is fighting to overcome persistent Tory claims that his party will recklessly spend public finances and increase personal taxes.

Right-wing firebrand Farage said his party was “now the opposition to Labour” in a debate appearance on ITV Thursday evening.

“This is the inflection point. The only wasted vote now is a Conservative vote, we are the challengers to Labour and we are on our way,” Farage said in a video posted on X.

After 14 years in power, the Conservatives are firmly on the back foot following an unprecedented period of political upheaval, with five Tory prime ministers since 2010, and three in just four months in 2022.

Much of that was the result of Brexit, the country’s tortuous departure from the European Union.

But there were also self-inflicted wounds such as Liz Truss’s short-lived tenure, when her unfunded tax cuts spooked the markets and crashed the pound.

Labour’s Starmer is campaigning on promises to spur growth and restore economic “stability”.

The survey of 2,211 people was carried out after Sunak pledged to cut £17 billion of taxes for working people in his party’s election manifesto.

Reform’s rise

Reform’s poll rating has risen since Farage, best known for his successful campaign for Britain to leave the European Union, said he was returning to frontline politics, taking over leadership of the party and standing for election to parliament.

A small right-wing party, founded in 2018 as the Brexit Party, Reform backs populist causes such as tougher immigration laws.

Asked if the trend would stick, a Conservative member who declined to be named said: “Yes. I think people are fed up with the Tories (Conservatives), but not with Conservatism. So they are moving to another Conservative party.”

However, despite overtaking Sunak’s Conservatives in Thursday’s poll – which reflected the share of a nationwide vote – Reform is not forecast to win many, if any, parliamentary seats.

Its support is spread comparatively evenly across the country, whereas backing for the larger and more established parties is more concentrated by geographic areas.

Britain has a first-past-the-post electoral system, meaning Reform could pick up millions of votes across the country without winning any of parliament’s 650 individual constituencies. (Agencies)

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