Nigel Farage Returns to UK Politics, Aiming to Shake Up Election

LONDON – Maverick populist leader Nigel Farage has injected a wave of uncertainty into Britain’s upcoming general election by making a return to frontline politics. His right-wing Reform UK party is poised to challenge the Conservative Party’s long-held status as the country’s most popular right-wing force.

Farage declared that he will lead Reform UK and contest a parliamentary seat in the seaside town of Clacton-on-Sea in the July 4 general election, vowing to “make Britain great again.”

“So I’m back. I’m standing as a candidate in this election. I’ve taken the leadership over of Reform UK,” Farage said in a video posted to X, referring to the successor of the Brexit Party. “You know why? I see our country going down the drain. I believe in Britain. These boring idiots that lead the Labour and Conservative parties are not worth the space.”

This announcement marks Farage’s return to political campaigning after a nearly five-year absence, coinciding with the successful campaign to leave the European Union (EU). Britain voted to leave the EU in the contentious 2016 referendum and formally exited in 2020.

“I can’t turn my back on those millions of people who followed me, believed in me,” Farage said in a speech. “I’ve changed my mind because I can’t let down millions of people.”

Farage’s campaign launch was not without incident, as a woman threw a McDonald’s milkshake at him as he departed an event. Local police apprehended the woman on suspicion of assault.

The populist leader’s political resurgence is set to disrupt the already fragile election campaign of the Conservative Party led by Rishi Sunak, who unexpectedly called a snap election last month amidst declining popularity and internal party turmoil. 

A YouGov poll this week indicated that Farage-led Reform UK trails the Conservative party by just two points and may soon surpass it as the country’s second most popular political party. The poll revealed that roughly 17% of surveyed voters would support Reform UK, with 19% voting for the Conservative Party. 

The Labour Party, led by Keir Starmer, is projected to garner a commanding 40% of the vote and secure a majority of seats in Parliament, according to the same poll.

“Finally the U.K. has a politician willing to stand up and say what the people have been saying for years,” Thomas Corbet-Dillon, a former adviser to former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, told Digital. “No more immigration. The majority of issues facing our country, lack of housing, overwhelmed health services and lack of jobs has been made worse by the Conservative Party, who have imported millions of people from the third world, against the wishes of the people.”

He observed, “Nigel Farage has become the most important politician in the U.K. and may actually live up to the title of the British Trump,” adding, “Farage is breaking the establishment Conservative Party just like Trump broke the establishment Republican Party in 2016. MAGA Americans should support Nigel and the Reform Party from across the pond.”

Former Conservative cabinet minister Nadine Dorries, who served under the government of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, speculated that Reform UK is on track to become the country’s primary right-wing party.

“I’m guessing that after the appalling events of the past few days over candidate selection, that Reform will have overtaken us in the polls by Saturday evening,” Dorries remarked, referencing internal conflicts within the party regarding the selection of candidates in specific regions.

The Conservative campaign has thus far struggled to gain momentum and has been plagued by a series of political miscalculations, while Reform UK is gaining traction and outmaneuvering the Conservatives on right-wing issues like immigration and patriotism.

Sunak was compelled to issue a profuse apology on Friday after he prematurely departed a D-Day commemoration event to conduct an election interview scheduled to air next week. “After the conclusion of the British event in Normandy, I returned back to the UK. On reflection, it was a mistake not to stay in France longer – and I apologise,” Sunak wrote on X.

Farage capitalized on Sunak’s D-Day lapse, asserting that the Conservative leader “could not even be bothered to attend the international event above Omaha Beach,” adding in another post on X, “Patriotic people who love their country should not vote for him.”

The Tories, as the Conservatives are commonly known, attempted to counter the rising popularity of Reform UK by pledging to curb immigration, highlighting the implemented scheme to relocate some asylum-seekers to Rwanda as a deterrent against illegal migration.

Reform UK, meanwhile, committed to a stringent crackdown on immigration, proposing a “one in, one out” migration quota and raising taxes on foreign employees.

Net migration levels surged to nearly 700,000 last year, a figure that both the Conservatives and the Labour Party vowed to reduce if elected.

Farage’s party represents the most formidable challenge to the Conservative Party’s dominance as the country’s leading right-wing political force, likely reshaping the party and pushing it further to the right.

In 2016, at the peak of the campaign to leave the EU, Farage’s previous pro-Brexit political party, the UK Independence Party (UKIP), garnered around 17% of the vote, forcing Conservatives to shift rightwards and adopt the policies of the insurgent populists.

In the 2019 election, Farage’s Brexit Party agreed to withdraw candidates and refrain from opposing Conservative candidates in exchange for the Conservative Party’s commitment to a timely departure from the EU without any delays. Reform UK and Farage have ruled out a similar arrangement in this election.

Farage and his party are presently projected to secure only four seats in the new Parliament due to Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system, in which the candidate receiving the most votes in the area wins the seat.

The party is anticipated to significantly contribute to the Conservatives’ electoral defeat by fragmenting the right-leaning vote, clearing the path for Labour Party candidates. 

“Farage knows that Reform won’t win any seats, but he doesn’t seem to care that a vote for Reform only helps Labour. He’s doing exactly what Keir Starmer wants him to do,” the Conservative Party stated in a press release.

In Clacton, despite the town’s overwhelming support for right-leaning candidates, Farage will face stiff competition against his Conservative rival Giles Watling. 

This will mark Farage’s eighth attempt to secure a parliamentary seat.