General election: Nigel Farage launches Reform UK bid in Clacton

Nigel Farage launches his General Election campaign in Clacton.
Credit: PA
Mr Farage launching his campaign in Clacton. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Nigel Farage pledged to be a "bloody nuisance" as he launched his latest bid to be an MP in the seaside town of Clacton in Essex.

Large crowds gathered on the seafront as the new leader of Reform UK posed for photographs near the pier.

He made his first major public speech since announcing his candidacy as he addressed a crowd of hundreds.

He told those gathered: “Send me to Parliament to be a bloody nuisance.”

Later, as he left a pub where he had spoken to reporters, the Reform UK leader was hit with a drink, which appeared to be a milkshake. He was seen with the drink splattered over his suit jacket as he was escorted to his campaign bus.

Crowds gathered to watch Mr Farage launch his campaign in the resort. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Clacton constituency factfile

  • The seat was won by Conservative Giles Watling in 2019, with a majority of 24,702. Boundary changes have revised this notional majority up to 25,717 in 2024.

  • It's the ninth safest Tory seat nationally, out of 372.

  • Was held by the Conservatives from 2005 to 2014, when Douglas Carswell, who first won in 2010, defected from the Tories to UKIP. He won a by-election for UKIP in 2014 and held the seat in 2015 - UKIP's only win in that election. Mr Carswell stepped down for the 2017 General Election, when the Conservatives won it back.

  • The estimated Leave vote in Clacton in the 2016 referendum was 71%.

  • According to the 2021 Census, the constituency has a population of 98,190, with an electorate of 75,959.

  • One in three people is aged over 65 (32%), which is above the England and Wales average (18.6%), while the proportion aged 16-34 (17.4%) is below average (24.1%).

  • Some 3.9% of people described themselves as BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) in the Census - below the England and Wales average of 18.3%.

As he addressed a rally at Clacton Pier earlier, Mr Farage hit out at the Tories over the handling of Brexit: “We made an offer to the British people, we could get back our independence and control of our borders.

“But what has happened? The Conservatives have betrayed that trust. They’ve opened up the borders to mass immigration like we’ve never seen before.

“And they deserve to pay a price for that, a big price for that.”

Mr Farage said the General Election was already effectively over: “That breach of trust from the Conservatives means they are finished, they are done.

“We are going to get a Labour government. Whether you like it or not, we are going to get a Labour government – the question is, who is going to be the voice of opposition?”

He added: “A Labour government won’t make any real changes at all, we need radical surgery in this country."

Nigel Farage drinks a pint of beer in a pub in Clacton. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Conservative candidate Giles Watling said Mr Farage "does not give two hoots about Clacton" and was more focused on his own profile.

"Nigel Farage doesn't care about the residents of Clacton - this is about Nigel sacrificing constituents on the altar of his vanity," he posted on social media.

Green candidate Natasha Osben said Reform would be aiming at winning over "disillusioned voters" from the two main parties.

She added: "But the Green Party is offering something different. The Greens are the only party offering credible solutions to the real problems that residents of Clacton face every day. We are promising voters real change, and real hope for a fairer, greener future."

A Lib Dem spokesperson said the party would be "campaigning for every vote at this election".

"From fighting for local health services to tackling the cost of living crisis the Lib Dems have a plan for a fair deal. Every vote for the Liberal Democrats is for a party that will stand up for our community all year round, not just election time.”

Mr Farage spoke briefly to crowds on the seafront before heading into the nearby Moon and Starfish Wetherspoons pub for a pint of beer.

He spoke to reporters in the pub about his bid to gain the parliamentary seat.

Mr Farage has said his long-term goal is for Reform UK to effectively take over the Conservative Party – and potentially put him in No 10.

The veteran Eurosceptic, now installed as Reform UK leader and seeking to win the Clacton seat at the General Election, suggested a “chunk” of the Conservatives could join his party.

Who is standing to be the MP for Clacton?

Nominations have not closed yet but candidates who have declared they will be running in the Clacton seat are as follows:

  • Matthew Bensilum, Lib Dem

  • Nigel Farage, Reform UK

  • Natasha Osben, Green

  • Jovan Owusu-Nepaul, Labour

  • Giles Watling, Conservative

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