'I won’t stand for Reform but I’ll be on campaign trail', says Nigel Farage in boost for Tories

Nigel Farage said he would be focusing on helping Donald Trump win the upcoming US election on November 5  (PA Wire)
Nigel Farage said he would be focusing on helping Donald Trump win the upcoming US election on November 5 (PA Wire)

Nigel Farage on Thursday ruled out standing as a Reform UK candidate in the upcoming general election, but vowed to help the party campaign against the Conservatives.

The party’s honorary president said he had “thought long and hard” about whether to stand in the poll on July 4 and it was “not the right time”.

Mr Farage threw his support behind Reform leader Richard Tice and the party’s only MP Lee Anderson, who joined after being suspended by the Tories in February when he refused to apologise for claiming “Islamists” had “got control” of the Mayor of London.

The party is seeking to attract disillusioned Conservative voters and has been strongly campaigning on issues of immigration and net zero in previous Labour stronghold seats in the North, known as the Red Wall.

“I am fully supportive of Richard Tice’s leadership and urge voters to put their trust in him and Lee Anderson,” Mr Farage said.

“I will do my bit to help in the campaign, but it is not the right time for me to go any further than that. Important though the general election is, the contest in the United States of America on November 5 has huge global significance.

“A strong America as a close ally is vital for our peace and security. I intend to help with the grassroots campaign in the USA in any way that I can.”

Mr Tice, a multi-millionaire ex-Tory donor, said he was “delighted” to have Mr Farage’s help during the election campaign.

He inherited the leadership of Reform UK, originally called the Brexit Party, from the ex-Ukip leader when Mr Farage decided to step back from frontline politics in 2021.

Many Tories fear Reform UK could put a significant dent in Rishi Sunak’s hopes to return to Downing Street and are likely to be relieved that Mr Farage has decided against taking on a more prominent role.

At the last general election in 2019 then prime minister Boris Johnson won an 80-seat majority for the Conservatives. His landslide victory was delivered, in large part, by winning over previous Labour voters in Red Wall seats across northern England and in the Midlands.

A pro-Brexit, low immigration campaign helped convince voters in the constituencies to back the Tories for the first time.

But recent polls show that Mr Sunak is struggling to hold on to the support of voters in Red Wall areas.

Sir Keir Starmer has made winning back Labour’s former northern heartlands a key part of his campaign strategy.

The Labour leader hailed his party’s “seismic” victory in the Blackpool South parliamentary by-election this month. He called the result “truly historic” after the party won the seat with the third biggest swing from the Conservatives to Labour in postwar history.

Chris Webb won with 10,825 votes, followed by David Jones, the Conservative candidate, with a distant 3,218 votes. He finished only narrowly ahead of Reform’s Mark Butcher on 3,101 votes.