Nigel Farage branded a 'shameless opportunist' as he changes Brexit Party to anti-lockdown Reform UK

Watch: Nigel Farage rebrands the Brexit Party

Nigel Farage has been branded a “shameless opportunist” after he announced plans to relaunch the Brexit Party as an anti-lockdown party.

The Brexit Party has applied to the Electoral Commission to change its name to Reform UK.

Farage said the newly named party will challenge the government’s “woeful response to coronavirus”.

In a joint article for the Daily Telegraph, Farage and Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice said COVID-19 lockdowns cause “more harm than good”.

Nigel Farage, a former member of the European Parliament representing the UK and head of the Brexit Party, speaks during a campaign rally for President Donald Trump at Phoenix Goodyear Airport Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, in Goodyear, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Nigel Farage has announced plans to rebrand the Brexit Party as Reform UK. (AP Photo)

However, Labour MP David Lammy criticised Farage.

He tweeted: “So now he seeks votes risking lives by opposing public health measures in a pandemic.

“There has never been a more shameless opportunist in British politics.”

Speaking from Pennsylvania in the US, Farage told Talk Radio on Monday: “What we’ve seen in this pandemic, I think, is a total failure of leadership at almost every level.”

He said the second lockdown scheduled to begin in England on Thursday would be “catastrophic”.

He said: “What about the millions of people out there, running their own businesses? This second lockdown is the death knell, economically, for many of those people.”

But Chris Deerin, director of the think tank Reform Scotland, took issue with Farage using the word “reform” for his new party.

He said: “It is hard to think of anyone who has done more damage to the UK and the Union than Nigel Farage.

“At Reform Scotland, we stand for the opposite of his mean, miserable ideology.

“It may turn out that we have to share the word ‘reform” with this latest vehicle for Farage’s seemingly deathless hubris. We wish it wasn’t so. But that will be all we share.”

Farage first revealed his intention to change the party’s name on the eve of last December’s general election, saying the Brexit Party would be renamed Reform if the UK left the EU the following month.

The Brexit Party contested 275 seats and took 2% of the overall vote in the general election but did not succeed in electing an MP.

In their joint article, Farage and Tice said: “Lockdowns don't work: in fact, they cause more harm than good.

"The single most pressing issue is the government's woeful response to coronavirus.

“Ministers have lost touch with a nation divided between the terrified and the furious.

“The debate over how to respond to COVID is becoming even more toxic than that over Brexit."

With President Donald Trump looking on, left, Nigel Farage, a former member of the European Parliament representing the UK and member of the Brexit Party, speaks at a Trump campaign rally at Phoenix Goodyear Airport Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, in Goodyear, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Nigel Farage joined US president Donald Trump onstage at a rally in Phoenix, Arizona, last week. (AP Photo)

Instead of lockdowns, Farage backs the Great Barrington Declaration, a letter organised by advocates of herd immunity. Despite the letter being signed by a number of scientists, an investigation found that many of its signatures were by fake experts.

Last week, Donald Trump invited Farage onstage at a rally in Arizona as the US president seeks a second term in the White House in Tuesday’s election.

Farage said his party will broaden its agenda to include coronavirus and seek “reform” in other areas.

It listed the House of Lords, the BBC and immigration as other areas it wants to reform.

“As promised, we continue to keep a very close eye on the government’s trade negotiations with the EU, to ensure a proper Brexit,” he said.

“Further reform in many other areas is also vital for our nation’s future.”

He tweeted: “There is now a political choice on lockdown and we wait to see whether we get a genuine Brexit.

“Beyond that, our whole system of government is not working and needs wholesale reform.”

Watch: Can you catch coronavirus twice?

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