Farage elected to UK parliament as his Reform party breaks through

By Paul Sandle

LONDON (Reuters) -Nigel Farage was elected to parliament on Friday, marking the emergence of his populist Reform UK as a new force in British politics squeezing the Conservative vote from the right wing.

Farage, a driving force behind Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, only entered the race last month, a move that caused shockwaves in a Conservative Party that was already polling far behind centre-left Labour.

He was elected in Clacton – an Essex town that had one of the highest leave votes in the Brexit referendum in 2016 – with a 46% share of the vote, beating the Conservatives and among a handful of Reform candidates elected for the first time.

“There is a massive gap on the centre right of British politics and my job is to fill it, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do,” he said after being declared the winner.

“Believe me folks, this is just the first step of something that is going to stun all of you.”

Farage, a former member of the European Parliament, had failed in seven previous bids to be elected to Westminster.

Reform also chalked up four other victories: Ashfield and Boston & Skegness in the East Midlands, and Great Yarmouth and South Basildon & East Thurrock in the East of England, pushing the Conservatives in each seat to second place or lower.

An exit poll had forecast the party could win 13 seats. In total, Reform picked up more than 4 million votes around the country.

Reform, founded as the Brexit Party in 2018 and renamed in 2022, had not previously won any seat in an election.

Early results in seats won comfortably by Labour showed Reform performing strongly, pushing the Conservatives into third place in a significant number.

Farage’s party aims to shake up British politics as Marine Le Pen’s National Rally is doing in France by taking a tough line on immigration, demanding that illegal migrants arriving in small boats from France are sent back. 

That would be difficult to achieve, but by focusing on the issue, it has targeted a weak spot for the Conservatives, which failed to “stop the boats” as promised by Rishi Sunak when he was prime minister.

The Conservative plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda also failed to get off the ground before the election was called.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Additional reporting by Muvija M and Sachin Ravikumar; Editing by Toby Chopra and Philippa Fletcher)




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