Tory mayoral candidate defects to Reform UK in another major setback to Sunak

21 March 2024, 13:47 | Updated: 21 March 2024, 13:57

The Manchester mayoral election will take place on 2 May.
The Manchester mayoral election will take place on 2 May. Picture: Alamy/X/Twitter
Jasmine Moody

By Jasmine Moody

The Conservative candidate for the Greater Manchester mayoral election has defected to Reform UK, just weeks after Lee Anderson made the same move.

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Dan Barker said this morning that he is "delighted" to be making the move to Reform UK - which he describes as the "new home of conservatism".

"Reform represents the ordinary people of this country," he added.

In a statement, the party said: "Reform is delighted that Dan Barker has joined us. He is an excellent candidate and will be a great representative for Reform and Manchester.

"He knows that today, if you believe in the future of this city, and this country, then Reform is to the future, as the Tories are to the past."

Dan Barker said this morning that he is "delighted" to be making the move to the Reform Party
Dan Barker said this morning that he is "delighted" to be making the move to the Reform Party . Picture: X/Twitter

The political figure, from the town of Sale, was selected to be the Conservative candidate in December of last year.

The Manchester mayoral election will take place on 2 May.

This move comes just weeks after Former Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson left the Conservative Party to join Reform UK, making him their first MP.

At a Reform UK press conference Richard Tice, leader of the Nigel Farage-founded party, announced the former Tory was defecting to his party.

Read more: Lee Anderson and Reform UK leader Richard Tice told to f*** off by angry local during tour of Ashfield

Read more: 'Our champion of the Red Wall': Reform UK leader praises Lee Anderson amid rumours more Tories are 'ready to defect'

Mr Anderson said he had done "a lot of soul searching," but had concluded he must defect to Reform

"I want my country back," he told the assembled reporters.

Mr Anderson said Reform UK will allow him to speak on behalf of people "who feel that they're not being listened to".

Mr Anderson lost the Conservative Party whip in February after refusing to apologise for claiming that "Islamists" had "got control" of London mayor Sadiq Khan.
Mr Anderson lost the Conservative Party whip in February after refusing to apologise for claiming that "Islamists" had "got control" of London mayor Sadiq Khan. Picture: Alamy

In just 48 hours of Mr Anderson joining, 2,000 people signed up to be Reform UK members.

Membership costs £25 a month, meaning that the political party was given £50,000 in two days.

Reform UK's leader, Richard Tice, told LBC's Andrew Marr that his party will aim to "destroy" the Tories after the next election.

Speaking exclusively to LBC's Andrew Marr, Mr Tice said: "Lee and I absolutely see eye-to-eye.

"He's a man of principle and integrity who feels that the two main parties have moved far away from his principles, what he stands for, and together we're going to try and make a real difference.

'We absolutely see eye to eye...and together we are going make a real difference' says Reform's Richard Tice of Lee Anderson

"He's our champion of the Red Wall and I've said very clearly today that in this coming election and the election afterwards, we are looking to replace the Tory party in the Red Wall as the main alternative to Labour."

According to a new poll conducted by YouGov for The Times, Reform UK is on its highest-ever support level.

Currently, the Tories are on 19 per cent support, followed by Reform UK on 15 per cent.

In the lead is Labour at 44 per cent support, according to the poll which was conducted between March 19 and 20.

Mr Anderson lost the Conservative Party whip in February after refusing to apologise for claiming that "Islamists" had "got control" of London mayor Sadiq Khan.

Andrew Marr: The notion that Britain has been bullied into submission by Islamists is ‘hysterical nonsense’

Speaking during an LBC call-in, Mr Khan said he was "appalled" and "heartbroken" about Islamophobic comments being made against him.

He accused Rishi Sunak of being a "weak" leader, saying the PM should be bringing communities together but instead, he felt "let down".

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