Nigel Farage sets sights on being thorn in Labour’s side after UK election

By Elizabeth Piper

CLACTON-ON-SEA, England (Reuters) – Nigel Farage’s supporters are out in force in Clacton-on-Sea to ensure he wins his first seat in parliament, a step, he says, towards his Reform UK party shaking up British politics as Marine Le Pen’s National Rally is doing in France.

In an interview at his campaign headquarters in the faded seaside town, Farage, who also predicts victory for his friend Donald Trump, is wary about his own election chances after seven failed attempts, but gives himself a more than 50% chance.

Opinion polls put him ahead in an area of eastern England where one local described the man who sold Brexit to millions of voters as someone “who gives us answers”.

His party has kicked out several candidates for reported racist or offensive comments, and two defected to the governing Conservatives, whose supporters he is targeting in a race led by opposition Labour, but Farage denies Reform is racist.

“A few bad apples” were accepted as candidates after the party “begged for (volunteers) at the last minute”, he said, pledging to professionalise a party that is expected to win several seats in what will be its second election.

Reform is set to win more votes but fewer seats than the long-established third party in British politics, the centrist Liberal Democrats, but lost some support after Farage said the West had provoked Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Farage says he is playing the long game, with his sights set on the next scheduled election in five years’ time.

“This is our first significant step towards a much longer-term goal, which is aiming at 2029, but also is aiming at building a mass movement for common sense across the country.” Farage, 60, told Reuters, wearing one of his trademark colourful blazers, this time in pink with blue detailing.

It is a sentiment shared by his supporters walking in and out of his headquarters to help canvas the population of this once proud seaside town, where Londoners used to holiday every year before cheap air travel drew them elsewhere.


Farage has long aimed to smash up the status quo in British politics, and he hopes to use parliament as a platform just as he used the European Parliament to promote his eurosceptic views when he served in the assembly from 1999 for two decades.

His surprise about-turn on June 3 to enter the British election race as the leader of Reform threw the Conservatives into panic. Until then, most had discounted the party’s candidates as little more than a headache.

Such is the state of the Conservatives – divided after 14 years in power and forecast to lose badly at the election – that some have said Farage could take it over and one day become a Conservative prime minister.

He does not rule it out, but says success for him would be seeing Reform, in five year’s time, being the catalyst for “a dramatic realignment of the centre-right of British politics”, something he believes the “silent majority” would want.

Farage was instrumental in the campaign to get Britain out of the European Union – meaning he is either loved or loathed in the country – and fear of his earlier party UKIP prompted the Conservatives to commit to the 2016 Brexit referendum.

He now looks to France and the success of Marine Le Pen’s far-right RN party in the first round of parliamentary elections and predicts she will become France’s president in 2027.

He says that while on economics the two parties are far apart — with her as big state, while he prefers reducing the regulatory burden — there are similarities.

“The similarities are culture. I mean, she believes in La France,” he said, adding that both she and he stood up for people against political elites.

Farage says unless any new arrivals to Britain are genuine refugees, they should not get any benefits or free health care for five years. On social housing, he says many Britons feel disadvantaged in getting on waiting lists.

Farage is focusing on “family, community, country” and aims to make Reform the main voice of opposition to an expected Labour government led by Keir Starmer and then a mass movement.

“Are the Conservatives going to provide any opposition? They seem to hate each other, they’re split down the middle,” he said.

“For us, this isn’t just about what happens in Westminster. It’s about building this broader movement across the country.”

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; editing by Philippa Fletcher)







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