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Farage’s return is a disaster for the Tories

In what was arguably the most decisive moment of the 2019 campaign, with support for his Brexit party already falling in the polls, Nigel Farage announced he was withdrawing his party’s candidates from all the seats defended by the Conservatives. Support for the party declined further as Leave voters almost universally rallied behind Boris Johnson’s call to “get Brexit done”.

Today, Mr Farage has once again intervened decisively. While support for reformers held steady through the early campaigns — and with no sign of a discernible increase in support for conservatives — this time he brought conservatives news they won’t want to hear.

Not only did he change his mind about running for office, but he also succeeded Richard Tice as leader of the Reformation. As a result, Rishi Sunak’s first key task in this election campaign – convincing the many 2019 Conservative voters who have since defected to the Reform Party – now looks much more difficult.

Previous polls suggest voters would be more likely to opt for reform if Mr Farage returned as party leader. Such hypothetical surveys should always be treated with caution. However, Mr Farage is a charismatic politician in a contest where that quality is rare. He certainly seems more likely than the urbane Richard Tice to be able to keep the Reform Party in the headlines.

And the more successful the reformists are, the harder it will be for the conservatives. Moreover, as Mr Farage removed Brexit Party candidates from seats held by the Conservatives in 2019, it will be the seats Mr Sunak now defends where the damage will be most severe.

It is more difficult to judge whether Mr Farage can win the seat of Clacton which he is currently seeking and which he hopes will provide him with a parliamentary platform for the next five years. The constituency is one of the most pro-Brexit parts of the country: up to 72% are estimated to have voted in favor of Brexit in 2016. Additionally, it is the only seat that Ukip managed to win in the 2015 elections in what was a one seat. poor reward for winning 13 percent of the vote.

But Ukip’s 2015 standard-bearer, Douglas Carswell, was previously the highest-profile Conservative MP for the seat and had already successfully defended it under the Ukip banner in a by-election last year. last year. Even in these difficult times for conservatives, this seems like a very safe seat. We will have to see if Mr Farage can beat the odds.

John Curtice is Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde and a Senior Research Fellow at the National Center for Social Research and ‘The UK in a Changing Europe’. He is also co-host of the podcast “Trendy”


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