Farage demands to be involved in leaders’ event

Politics

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage has said he should be allowed into a political leaders’ event next week – and challenged Sir Keir Starmer to a head-to-head debate.

The parliamentary hopeful was speaking at an event in London, after a single poll put his party one percentage point above the Conservatives.

This is within the margin of error, and more than a dozen other polls have Reform behind the Tories in their most recent datasets – with support ranging from 9% to 17%.

Election latest: Reform passes Tories in poll

YouGov, the pollster Mr Farage was quoting, puts his party on 19% compared to the Conservative’s 18%.

The Sky News poll tracker, which collates all the results to provide an average, has Reform in third place.

In order, it has Labour on 42%, Conservatives on 21.8%, Reform on 14.3%, the Liberal Democrats on 10.4%, the Greens on 5.9% and the SNP on 3.1%.

More on Nigel Farage

Speaking on Friday lunchtime, Mr Farage made a “demand of right now” that “the BBC put us into that debate”.

He appeared to be speaking about a special episode of Question Time, set to take place on Thursday 20 June.

There is a one-on-one leadership debate the following week between Sir Keir and Rishi Sunak.

Mr Farage has already appeared in two seven-person leadership events – however, while smaller parties sent their respective leaders, Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems did not.

Mr Farage said: “I would also very much like to do a debate head-to-head with Keir Starmer and the reason is very simple – we think this should be the immigration election.”

In the same event, Mr Farage declared himself the “leader of the opposition” against Sir Keir, having said he believes Labour will form the next government and the Tories are “done”.

The former UKIP leader said he believed his party could win six million votes at the election – which works out to close to 19% of the valid votes cast in 2019.

Read more:
Sunak: Voting for Reform would give Starmer ‘blank cheque’
Tory MP engages in political ‘flirting’ with Farage

In 2019, the Conservatives won just under 14 million votes, Labour won around 10.3 million, the SNP won 1.2 million and the Liberal Democrats won 3.7 million.

However, it’s hard to say how many seats the six million could work out to due to the first past the post system – as shown by the fact the SNP won 48 seats in 2019 and the Liberal Democrats won 11.

Mr Farage is claiming he wants his party to build towards the next general election – which must take place by summer 2029.


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Nigel Farage speaking in London. Pic: PA
Image:
Nigel Farage speaking in London. Pic: PA

He said: “Remember, this is not a short-term commando raid, this is a five-year commitment. This election is our first step towards building for 2029.

“So, however many seats we win, you have my absolute assurance that our campaigning of the 29 election, our building of a big movement in this country, will begin the very next day on 5 July.

“If we did finish up with a huge number of votes and a paltry number of seats, do you know what it would do? It would tell us yet again that Britain is broken and Britain needs reform, and that reform includes the electoral system, that reform includes the abomination that is the House of Lords, and that reform includes the right, as people in Switzerland have, to call referendums on key issues if they think their government and parliament are out of touch with them.”

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Asked about his party’s financial situation, Mr Farage said Reform had raised “£2-3m in 25 quids” – but it needs to raise more and does “not have the ammunition that we need”.

The BBC and the Labour Party have been approached for comment.

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