Nigel Farage's Reform UK on course for extraordinary performance at the general election

Nigel Farage's party is expected to claim an impressive 13 seats, according to exit poll results
-Credit: (Image: PA)

Nigel Farage's party is expected to claim an impressive 13 seats, according to exit poll results. The projected outcomes for Reform UK are surpassing expectations, with the party predicted to win more seats than initially forecasted in numerous polls.

Barnsley South, Barnsley North and Hartlepool are amongst the constituencies where victories are anticipated based on current data analysis. This means Reform UK appears to be making ground in traditionally Labour-dominated areas.

It has also been reported that Farage has been out for dinner on the night of the General Election count. A BBC presenter said at a count in Clacton, where Farage is hoping to be elected: "One of my colleagues tells me Nigel Farage is having a meal somewhere in town, we are not expecting him to turn up until the early hours of the morning."

And it now seems almost certain that Farage- will be victorious in Clacton whilst Rupert Lowe is likely to triumph in Great Yarmouth. For the latest analysis of the biggest stories, sign up to the Wales Matters newsletter here

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The deputy leader of the party, David Bull, talked about a "five year plan" and celebrated the party's accomplishments in its inaugural general election, stating: "This would be an incredible result for us."

Reform UK, a populist party birthed from the remains of the Brexit Party, has added significant energy to the campaign over the last six weeks. Its growth in support has been so intense that it has posed a serious challenge to the Conservatives for the second place in the popular vote.

Mr Farage has stated his aspiration for the party to eventually become the opposition to Labour, targeting the next scheduled election, due no later than 2029, as Reforms key objective, The Express has reported.

However, their rapid ascension has come at a cost to the Conservatives, who have seen a substantial loss of right-wing supporters. As Tory backing has taken a hit, Reforms popularity has spiked massively, providing them with an opportunity to secure at least three parliamentary seats.

One of which is very likely to be awarded to Mr Farage, who is predicted to soar to success in Clacton by a considerable margin a victory that would see him finally become an MP after seven previous attempts.

On the brink of election day, a YouGov poll has indicated that former Tory MP Lee Anderson might retain his Ashfield constituency, albeit under the Reform banner this time. Join our WhatsApp news community here for the latest breaking news.

Rupert Lowe is also tipped to secure a win for Reform in Great Yarmouth. However, Richard Tice, the chair of Reform UK and its ex-leader, could face defeat in Boston and Skegness, where he's locked in a close battle with Conservative candidate Matt Warman.

Reform's polling numbers were already strong when Rishi Sunak surprised everyone by announcing a snap general election on May 22. But it was the dramatic comeback of Nigel Farage, the party's co-founder, that really propelled Reform's campaign.

Farage had initially declared he wouldn't stand in the general election during his first campaign speech on May 23, opting instead to back Mr. Tice from the sidelines. Yet, just over a week later, he returned to the helm, vowing to lead a "political revolt" aimed at overthrowing the Tories.

His first rally in an Essex seaside town drew thousands, signalling a potent force in the political landscape. Even an incident involving a milkshake attack couldn't sour the atmosphere. Rallies in places like Clacton showcased a mix of pyrotechnics and passionate support.

As often is the case with such a popular yet polarising figure as Farage, controversy is never far behind. Initially, it was his remarks blaming Nato for Putin's invasion of Ukraine that stirred debate.He also criticised Boris Johnson and Volodymyr Zelensky's war tactics, suggesting they would result in the loss of every "young man" in Ukraine.

The race row erupted when a campaigner for Mr Farage was caught on camera making racist and Islamophobic slurs. The leader of Reform expressed his "dismayed" over the abhorrent comments about Mr Sunak and the "shooting" of migrants.

However, he now alleges it was a "set-up", highlighting that the individual involved, Andrew Parker, is an "actor". He also had to expel three members of his Reform team for making "vulgar and wrong" comments in the Channel 4 expose. Recent polls indicate that these scandals have impacted the party's support, but not significantly.

Reform UK, established in 2021, initially advocated against further lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic. Since 2022, it has campaigned on a wider platform, notably pledging to reduce net migration, supporting low taxation, and opposing the government's net-zero energy policy.

In March this year, Reform gained its first MP when Mr Anderson, a former deputy chairman of the Tory Party, defected following his suspension over a dispute about Sadiq Khan. From the beginning, Reform meant business. The party fielded candidates in the London Assembly, Scottish Parliament and Senedd elections in 2021. Despite failing to secure any seats, the party amassed just over 42,500 supporters across all three elections.

Throughout 2021, the party's support in the polls remained largely unchanged, hovering around three percentage points on average. However, by the end of 2022, this figure had climbed to an average of 6 per cent, as public dissatisfaction with the Conservative Party grew following the ousting of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.

The party's prospects saw a significant upturn during 2023 and into the early months of 2024, with the average backing for Reform nearly doubling from 6 per cent in January 2023 to 10.1 per cent by the beginning of March.

The ascent of Reform is seen as the result of both its policy proposals and advantageous circumstances.

Economically, the party has pledged major reductions in taxes such as corporation tax and inheritance tax at a time when Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt have presided over the highest tax burden since World War II, with predictions of even higher levels later in the decade.

Despite repeated pledges by successive Conservative governments to reduce immigration, net migration hit record highs in 2022. Former leader Mr Tice has pointed to this "betrayal" of previous manifesto commitments by the Tory government as a key factor in his party's rising popularity.

A study by the More in Common think tank in February 2022 indicated that immigration was the primary issue driving 2019 Conservative voters to switch their allegiance to Reform, with approximately one in five of those who supported Boris Johnson and his party at the last election likely to back Mr Farage.

Reform's proposed changes to border control include "net zero immigration", exiting the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) a popular demand among Tory backbenchers and party grassroots and classifying illegal immigration as a national security threat.

The party is advocating for an immigration tax that would require employers to pay a higher National Insurance (NI) rate for foreign workers.

Reform has also committed to a 20 per cent National Insurance rate for every foreign worker, compared to the current 13.8 per cent for domestic British workers.

Arguing that the green initiative is causing more harm to the British economy than any other factor, the party plans to scrap the Government's flagship net zero targets.

Other policies include offering vouchers for private healthcare if a GP appointment isn't available within three days, eliminating interest on student loans, increasing police numbers, keeping "woke ideologies out of the classroom", abolishing the TV licence fee, reforming the Lords and reducing "wasteful spending".