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Sat, 22 June 2024

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Nigel Farage's Election Bid Means There “Are No Safe Tory Seats Anymore”

Nigel Farage's decision to stand in the election has “thrown a major curveball into the campaign” (Alamy)

3 min read

The potential negative impact of Nigel Farage entering the campaign on the Conservatives’ electoral chances is “almost infinitely large”, according to leading election experts, declaring there “is no such thing as a safe seat now” for the Tories.

Paula Surridge said Farage’s return to lead Reform UK and stand for Parliament in Clacton this week could see the right-wing party eat so far into the Tory vote share on 4 July that “it starts to make an awful lot of seats that weren't in play, be in play".

Speaking to The Rundown podcast from PoliticsHome, the professor of political sociology at Bristol University said Reform, which are polling as high as 17 per cent in recent surveys, are “exclusively drawing their votes from previous Conservative voters”, and their continued rise under Farage’s leadership will have a huge impact on whether the Tories can hold in many marginal seats.

Fellow elections expert Rob Ford, professor of political science at the University of Manchester, said he agreed “with this assessment that there's no safe seats left”, and added the “picture gets even worse for the Conservatives” after recent seat-by-seat polls that predicted a majority as high as more than 300 for Labour.

This week has seen a number of MRP surveys, which give an estimated result in each Westminster constituency, predict Labour will be on almost 500 seats, while the Tories will fall from 376 won in 2019 to less than 100, their worst election result ever.

Appearing alongside her on the podcast, Ford said when Reform’s forerunner the Brexit Party stood candidates at the 2019 general election it was “estimated that Nigel Farage may have saved 20 or 30 Labour MPs”, as the right-wing vote was split.

“One of the myths that Farage and the Conservatives propagated after 2019 is that he helped the Conservatives”, he said. “He didn't help the Conservatives, he reduced their majority, and he's not going to help them this time either.”

Ford said Farage’s U-turn on standing to be an MP has “thrown a major curveball into the campaign”, suggesting that even the most pessimistic estimates of how many seats the Tories will be left with could be underplaying how bad a night Prime Minister Rishi Sunak could have next month.

“We can say this right now four weeks out: the meteor can hit, this can be the dinosaurs getting wiped out,” he added.

“This can be electoral apocalypse, that's what's on the map, it’s there in all the data.”

 

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