Latest News 05-07-2024 06:02 11 Views

Nigel Farage’s return to politics causes wrinkle in British election: Why has he proven so successful?

As Britain votes for its next prime minister on Thursday, one expert believes Nigel Farage and his Reform UK Party will help shape British conservative politics in this and future elections.

'He's going to make noise,' Matthew Tyrmand, a conservative political activist and adviser to political parties across Europe, told Fox News Digital. 'He's obviously a walking billboard on ideas. People follow him, he's visible, so he will be able to punch well above the weight of the party's representation in Parliament.'

Tyrmand met Farage 10 years ago at CPAC and since then has regularly spoken with the political maverick throughout his various political endeavors, including Brexit and his latest run for political office.

The Reform UK party, founded in 2018, appointed Farage as leader shortly after British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a snap election to take place on July 4. In the past six weeks, Reform has led to an erosion of support for the Conservative Party and will most likely expand its representation in Parliament beyond its current one member: Lee Anderson, who defected from the Conservatives earlier this year.

Despite those significant gains, Tyrmand suggested that Farage’s influence will largely remain outside of Parliament, for now. 

'The contention that he will, you know, be the leader of the opposition, that is an aggressive talking point,' Tyrmand said. 'Formally, that will certainly not be the case, but ideologically and in visibility, there will be a case to be made for it.'

'This will set him and Reform up should a Labour government stumble, which I'd be willing to bet that they will do more of the same, whether it's unfettered immigration or not protecting the working-class people, and wages will still be stagnant,' he added. 

Reform has nearly matched the Conservatives in polling, with around 17% support compared to the Conservatives’ roughly 20%, according to The Telegraph’s polling data from Savanta.

Tyrmand said that in the British system, because of how votes are spread over constituencies, even if Reform ends up taking 10% to 20% of the vote, it could end up having very few seats overall.

'That alone is going to shine a light on the system and how indirectly, unproportionately representative it is, and people [will] be pissed off about that, as they should be,' he said.

Tyrmand argued that Farage’s recent stint on the popular reality show 'I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here' helped shed a lot of mysticism around his public persona: Farage finished third in a competition in which contestants subject themselves to a series of trials, according to The Guardian.

'People realize he’s not the boogieman that The Sun, The Mirror and The Telegraph and everyone else makes him out to be. The way he campaigns and … watched the football match in the Euro Cup, this is a guy people want to have a beer with,' Tyrmand said.

'That’s a big part of his appeal and support, but that was really put on steroids after this reality show in December,' Tyrmand added.

The Sun, a newspaper in the U.K. that Pamco Research Group estimated reaches around 8.7 million people per day, endorsed Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer over Farage, but it included him in a final plea to the British public. 

Normally, only the Labour and Conservative parties would make such bids, and even with a greater presence than Reform, the Liberal-Democrats did not get a chance to make their own pitch.

Farage, in his final plea, said swapping support from the Conservatives to Labour would only 'change middle management' and 'Britain’s elites are happy to see Keir Starmer replace Rishi Sunak.'

'I am serious about breaking up their rotten two-party system,' Farage wrote. 'After Thursday, Reform UK can be the real opposition in Parliament. We will hold Starmer to account over his plans to open Britain’s borders to even more immigration and betray Brexit by taking the knee to the EU.'

'And this is just the start,' he added. 'Over the next five years, I am serious about building a mass movement for real change. A vote for Reform UK is not a protest vote, it’s not a fantasy vote, it’s not a wasted vote. It’s a vote to change Britain for good.'

Farage has run seven times for a seat in the British Parliament and failed to win, but he found success in the European Parliament as the European MP for South East England in the United Kingdom Independence Party.


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