Nigel Farage vows to be 'voice of opposition' to Labour as he announces he will stand for Reform at General Election

3 June 2024, 16:17 | Updated: 3 June 2024, 18:22

Nigel Farage speaks to LBC after announcing he will be standing in the General Election

By Flaminia Luck and Kit Heren

Nigel Farage has said he will be the "voice of opposition" to Labour as he announced he would stand at the General Election for Reform UK, in a last-minute change of heart.

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Mr Farage, who will stand in the Essex seaside town of Clacton-on-Sea, told LBC that the election was already "over".

"Labour have won, the Tories will probably hate each other even more in opposition than they do in government," he said.

"And we're going to be a very clear voice of opposition for those who don't like what is offered by the London metropolitan elite."

Mr Farage had previously said he would not stand, announcing that he would focus on campaigning for Donald Trump in the US instead.

But he said on Monday: "I just realised there are millions of people out there that wanted me to do this, and if I didn't do it, they will feel very let down.

Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage. Picture: Getty

So I'm going to do it. And you know what, we're going to get a huge number of votes, we're going to get seats in Parliament. And the ambition is to be the voice of opposition to a big Labour majority."

A YouGov poll released on Monday afternoon showed that Reform could have no MPs after the election, although the fieldwork was done before Mr Farage announced his candidacy. He said his announcement would change the results of the poll.

Mr Farage also said he would take part in a leaders' debate on Friday.

Tom Swarbrick reacts as Nigel Farage reveals he is to stand in the General Election

The former UKIP leader made his candidacy announcement at a press conference in south-east London on Monday afternoon, saying he wants to lead a "political revolt".

The 58-year-old has tried to become an MP on seven occasions between 1994 and 2015.

Most recently he was defeated in the 2015 general election for the seat of South Thanet in Kent by Conservative opponent Craig Mackinlay.

Mr Farage is to stand in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex
Mr Farage is to stand in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex. Picture: Getty

On Monday, Mr Farage said he wanted to lead a "political revolt".

A turning of our backs on the political status quo. It doesn't work. Nothing in this country works any more."

He added there is a "rejection of the political class going on in this country".

Mr Farage also said he had been left too little time to prepare when Rishi Sunak called a surprise election and had decided the "rational thing to do" was to "do my bit as I put it supporting the country around the party".

But he said since then he had been talking to people on the streets and observed that "there is a rejection of the political class going on in this country in a way that has not been seen in modern times".

Mr Farage said: "The other thing that really shook me in a way last week were the number of people coming up to me in the street saying 'Nigel, why aren't you standing?'"

Read more: General Election LIVE: Keir Starmer says ‘new age of insecurity has begun’ at defence speech

He predicted the Tories will be in opposition after the General Election as he took the fight to Rishi Sunak's party.

"They are split down the middle on policy, and frankly right now they don't stand for a damn thing.

"So our aim in this election is to get many, many millions of votes. And I'm talking far more votes than Ukip can got back in 2015."

Tom Swarbrick reacts as Nigel Farage reveals he is to stand in the General Election

He continued: "When people start to realise in the red wall, with Reform second to Labour, when they start to realise that actually in those seats, it's a Conservative vote that's a vote for Labour, it's a Conservative vote that is a wasted vote, then I think we might just surprise everybody."

He added: "We are appealing to Conservative voters, we are appealing to Labour voters."

Mr Farage said there was "every chance" that Reform would get more votes than the Conservatives.

He added: "They are on the verge of total collapse." Asked whether he has boosted Sir Keir Starmer's chances by running for parliament, the new Reform leader said: "No, is the answer."

He added that in a week's time, "I think you'll see we're going to start drawing from Labour equally as much as the Conservatives. The Conservative Party have lost this election without my intervention".

Richard Tice will now serve as chairman of the party, it was also announced at the press conference.

Mr Tice had previously previously defended Mr Farage after he announced he would not be standing in order to help Donald Trump in his campaign to return to the White House.

He previously spoke to LBC about how Mr Farage was going to get "stuck in" campaigning for Reform for the upcoming election.

When he was asked whether he had discussed his latest political move with Mr Trump, Mr Farage said: "I think the Donald's got other things to be dealing with just at this moment in time. He's been rather busy, including joining TikTok and racing up to ridiculous numbers."

Following his historic conviction last week, Mr Farage said: "Conviction or not, I haven't changed my mind that the world would be a safer place with Donald Trump in the White House."

He added: "Clearly, if I'm elected the MP for Clacton and I'm there every Friday ... it'll become more difficult, but not impossible."

Read more: General Election LIVE: Labour and Conservatives launch election ‘battle’ buses as campaign enters second weekend

Richard Tice says Nigel Farage will still be a 'huge help' despite not running for Reform UK

On the leadership announcement, the Tories said Nigel Farage is "doing exactly what Keir Starmer wants him to do" by entering the election fray.

A Conservative Party spokesman said: "Nigel Farage risks handing Keir Starmer a blank cheque to rejoin the EU, impose the retirement tax on pensioners and hike taxes on hardworking Brits up and down the UK.

"Farage knows that Reform won't win any seats, but he doesn't seem to care that a vote for Reform only helps Labour. He's doing exactly what Keir Starmer wants him to do.

"Just yesterday, EU insiders openly voiced their expectation that Starmer would seek a softer Brexit deal, opening the door to rejoining the EU all together. That would mean uncontrolled immigration and betraying the will of the British people.

"Is Farage really willing to risk undoing his life's work by handing Starmer a blank cheque to rejoin the EU?

"Only a vote for Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives can deliver a clear plan, bold action and a secure future for our country."

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: "The Conservative Party has already become the mirror image of Nigel Farage's Reform.

"Rishi Sunak's constant pandering to Reform has horrified former lifelong Conservative voters in the centre ground.

"Sunak must show some backbone and rule out Farage ever joining the Conservative Party in future, including if he gets elected to be an MP."

Read more: Diane Abbott says she is standing for Labour and denies she was offered peerage by Starmer

The following candidates will be standing in Clacton-on-Sea:

  • Matthew Bensilum (Liberal Democrats)
  • Nigel Farage (Reform UK)
  • Natasha Osben (Green)
  • Jovan Owusu-Nepaul (Labour)
  • Giles Watling (Conservative)

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