Tory vote ‘enables’ Labour government, says Nigel Farage

Voting for the Conservatives would “enable” a Labour government, Nigel Farage has claimed, after Reform UK overtook the Tories for the first time in a major poll of public opinion during the election campaign.

A YouGov survey commissioned by the Times newspaper had Reform at 19% to the Conservatives 18% of voting intention, in a crossover moment which is the latest blow to Tory hopes of returning to Government.

Mr Farage lauded the poll and presented his party as now being the “opposition to Labour” for voters, as he and other leading political figures took part in a seven-way ITV debate.

Politicians take part in a debate
Senior politicians took part in an ITV debate (PA)

In a flip of Conservative campaign rhetoric, he also claimed that voting for the Tories over Reform would enable a Labour government.

Labour sits in the lead at 37% of voting intention, according to YouGov, with the Liberal Democrats at 14%, the Greens at 7%, the SNP at 3%, Plaid Cymru at 1% and others at 2%.

The poll was conducted on a sample size of 2,211 adults in Britain between June 12 and 13.

When given the chance to ask another of the panellists a question, Mr Farage took aim at Conservative frontbencher Penny Mordaunt, and pointed to rising net migration despite Tory promises to control it.

“Why on earth should anybody believe the fifth manifesto that promises cuts to net migration?” he asked.

Ms Mordaunt was laughed at by the audience as she replied: “Because of the record of this Prime Minister.”

She warned: “Nigel is a Labour enabler. He is enabling no cap, no target, and no plan.”

But Mr Farage responded that he did not believe Ms Mordaunt, adding: “As for being a Labour enabler, we are now ahead of you in the national polls. A vote for you is actually now a vote for Labour.”

The Reform UK leader lauded the poll as the programme began, saying: “Just before we came on air we overtook the Conservatives in the national opinion polls. We are now the opposition to Labour.”

The senior politicians were quizzed during the debate on a wide range of issues, including the standard of public services, the cost of living, Brexit and migration.

Four out of seven of them raised their hands when asked whether immigration is too high: Reform UK’s Nigel Farage, who raised both his hands, the Conservatives’ Penny Mordaunt, the Liberal Democrats’ Daisy Cooper and Labour’s Angela Rayner.

The SNP’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn accused them of playing into “the Westminster status quo”.

Mr Flynn could later be heard calling out “shameful” when Angela Rayner suggested Labour would not seek to rejoin the EU if it wins power.

He later added that his party would “yes absolutely” seek to rejoin, as did the Greens, Lib Dems and Plaid Cymru.

Ms Mordaunt suggested a Labour government would “take you back in, they will tie you on defence, on migration, on regulation, without any of the benefits of membership”.

Mr Farage also rejected the prospect of rejoining, adding: “Unfortunately we are governed incompetently, but at least they are our mistakes and not somebody else’s.”

 Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni laugh together
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni joined other G7 leaders in Fasano (PA)

Away from the airwaves, Rishi Sunak insisted he was “definitely not” down in the dumps after Wednesday night’s televised leaders’ event on Sky News as he spoke at the G7 summit in Italy.

A snap poll following the broadcast found approximately two-thirds of those asked thought Sir Keir Starmer had won.

Asked if he was alright, Mr Sunak said “of course” and pivoted immediately to criticising Labour’s manifesto, which was launched in Manchester on Thursday.

At the launch, Sir Keir said Labour had a plan to turn the country around after 14 years of Tory “chaos” but cautioned that there would be “no quick fix” if he is handed the keys to No 10 by voters on July 4.

Launching a manifesto which contained no new policy announcements, Sir Keir denied he was being overly cautious in his efforts to put his party back in power for the first time since 2010.