Farage predicts Labour win but says Reform is fighting long game

Credit: PA

In Dover on Tuesday, thick fog made for poor visibility. But inside a seafront yacht club, it was clear why Nigel Farage had chosen this town to make his entry to this year’s General Election.

The ‘honorary president’ of Reform UK was stood behind a lectern emblazoned with the words: "Rishi Sunak can’t stop the boats".

“It was pretty obvious to me early in 2020 that the trickle of small inflatable ribbed dinghies coming across the English Channel would turn into a flood,” said Mr Farage. “And now you’re all talking about it.”

He said this year’s election had “got off to the dullest start I can ever remember in my entire life”.

So why has he decided to enter the campaign, but not stand as a candidate?

“Snap election caught me off guard. Caught many Conservatives off guard too, I think!”

“I was actually about to launch,” Mr Farage told ITV News. Reform sources tell me he planned to stand in the seat of Clacton.

“I think I'm doing more for the cause, more for the party, by going out and exposing some of the nonsense that has been taught, than I can by going in one seat for a space of six weeks.”

He insists he will play a prominent role in this campaign, appearing across the country several times per week.

The former UKIP leader admitted it was “possible” his Reform Party might end up with millions of votes but not a single MP because of the First Past the Post electoral system. He admits the party lacks funding and structure. But he’s pitting his sights beyond this election.

Nigel Farage in Dover on his first campaign outing for Reform UK Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

“Labour are gonna win. It's a foregone conclusion. I'm fighting as part of a six-year project so that we can be the opposition party at the general election after this.”

Is he trying to destroy the Conservative party?

“They've destroyed themselves. I mean, there is no Conservative Party. There is no ideology. They're completely split down the middle. They've spent more time fighting amongst themselves than they have fighting for the country. I suspect in opposition, they'll be even worse.”

Mr Farage is a divisive figure. To some, he whips up tensions for his own political gain. To others, he’s a straight talking figure who says what the main parties are too afraid to.

In this election it may be Conservative candidates who fear his arrival the most.

Have you heard our new podcast Talking Politics? Every week Tom, Robert and Anushka dig into the biggest issues dominating the political agenda…