'Smoked-filled ego w***fest': Inside Laurence Fox’s Reclaim Party split... caused by a Volvo, Christmas card and MacBook

2 February 2024, 11:16

Rows, egos and lost deposits:  LBC takes a look behind the scenes of The Reclaim party
Rows, egos and lost deposits: LBC takes a look behind the scenes of The Reclaim party. Picture: Alamy
Henry Riley

By Henry Riley

LBC has been told by an insider who was involved with The Reclaim Party about the “woeful” work ethic of Laurence Fox, the clashes at the heart of the party and how he managed to upset fellow activists.

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Cast your mind back to 2020. Laurence Fox had appeared on the BBC’s flagship political programme Question Time and was appearing on mainstream media outlets.

The actor-turned-politician – had an enviable political opportunity when he set up The Reclaim Party in October of that year bankrolled by the businessman Sir Jeremy Hosking.

Exposure, funds and at the time a void on the ‘far right’ of British politics which the party could seamlessly slot into, and attract a substantial caucus of votes… but fast forwards a few years later and it hasn’t worked out as planned.

Electoral tests have been uninspiring at best. Reclaim’s leader Laurence Fox stood for Mayor of London back in 2021, and received just 1.9% of the vote – losing his £10,000 deposit.

Read more: Laurence Fox libelled two men when he called them 'paedophiles' on social media, High Court rules

It is not a requirement to be a member of the performing arts in order to stand for Reclaim, but clearly it does help.

Just a few months later the party would face another electoral test, leading to a calamitous result in the Scottish Parliamentary election in Glasgow Pollok. Comedian Leo Kearse came 18th with just 114 votes (or 0.3%), losing his £500 deposit, in a campaign where he said that “wokeness and extreme nationalism” were the only acceptable discourses in Scotland these days. Curiously Kearse is no longer a representative of the party.

Laurence Fox stood for Mayor of London back in 2021 and lost his deposit
Laurence Fox stood for Mayor of London back in 2021 and lost his deposit. Picture: Alamy

Another key figure who has left the party is Martin Daubney, the former journalist and MEP, who at one point was the Deputy Leader. Mr Daubney stood in the North Shropshire by election and finished seventh, losing his deposit with less than 1% of the vote. Mr Daubney has now left Reclaim.

The Party’s unelected leader did improve in percentage terms on his London Mayoral result at the 2023 Uxbridge and South Ruislip by election following the resignation of Boris Johnson.

Laurence Fox garnered 2.3% of the vote, which was still less than half of the 5% needed to retain his deposit, though, to be fair Mr Fox he did comfortably defeat the Liberal Democrats. Still, another £500 deposit lost.

But what has gone so badly wrong at Reclaim? In the words of one former insider it’s simple: “Laurence Fox”.

“The man’s a nutter, he’s a walking dangerous ego”.

This account, from a former insider, describes how Laurence Fox’s work ethic was “woeful”.

He alleges that Laurence Fox used to “stroll in late every day at 11am” and then proceeded to “go for a long lunch at 12:30, followed by a nap at 2pm because he was so worn out. The work ethic was a joke”.

Seemingly when Mr Fox was present at Reclaim HQ it actually caused more problems than it solved. “When Laurence was there it turned into a smoked-filled ego w***fest”, where there were apparently frequent clashes with the now-former Deputy leader Martin Daubney.

The former Deputy Leader fell out with the party after reportedly becoming uncomfortable at an offer from Jeremy Hosking – reported in the Telegraph – that he would financially reward MPs if they were to lose their seats.

Another overlooked feature of the political entity is that Laurence Fox has never actually been elected into the role, and based on the current mechanisms of the party is unlikely to ever be involuntarily disposed.

LBC has also been told that the Reclaim Party currently has no members. “No one is actually able to join because there is no mechanism to join”, the insider explained. “You’re able to sign up to a mailing list, but currently the Reclaim Party has no members and has never had an official membership”.

One of the curious recent fallouts was the sudden resignation of Reclaim’s only MP, Andrew Bridgen. Mr Bridgen represented the party in Parliament for just over 6 months between May–December of 2023, but made the “incredibly difficult decision to resign” due to a “difference in the direction of the party”.

In fact, LBC has learned that Laurence Fox was loathe to travel to Leicestershire to campaign for their party’s only MP.

“He rarely went to Leicestershire because he didn’t see it as a ‘sexy’ seat”, the insider explained.

Conversely Mr Fox was reportedly terrible at campaigning, so Andrew Bridgen welcomed his lack of canvassing. Laurence Fox was also reportedly more interested in his “well paid” dog walker than his only MP.

“He also hated that he was not the main man when Andrew came in, he was clearly very jealous”

“There was a ridiculous situation where Laurence couldn’t be arsed to go and campaign for his party’s only MP, that’s where the tension between [Laurence] Fox and [Andrew] Bridgen started”

The relationship between Fox and Bridgen began to “sour” at this point, with a torrid December pushing the former Conservative MP over the edge due to two incidents: Christmas cards and Christmas trees.

Firstly, Andrew Bridgen was said to be “royally p***** off” when his official Christmas card to constituents in North West Leicestershire contained a significant spelling error – with regards to his own name. Voters were wished a Merry Christmas from one Andrew ‘Brigden’.

Secondly – as was reported online – I am told it is indeed true that the straw which broke the camel’s back was a Volvo XC90. The vehicle, which is a company-car, had Laurence Fox as its primary driver but was lent to Andrew Bridgen for a few days to complete constituency work.

According to an insider, Laurence Fox got “bored” and wanted to use the car earlier than agreed to drive a Christmas tree to his personal address. When Mr Bridgen refused, his party’s leader threatened to involve the police.

One incident which infuriated some supporters of the party involved a ‘young trainee producer’ who was “not paid particularly well” and “used to edit videos for us”.

We were told that this individual had a long commute from a City in the ‘South’ to the party’s headquarters in London. It was then agreed that this employee should have a “top of the range MacBook Air” in order for them to work from home and save on the expensive and lengthy commute.

When the MacBook was agreed and ordered, Laurence Fox apparently decided that he was more deserving of the computer saying “I fancy having that” and then proceeded to take it off the employees desk and install it at home.

The party currently has no politicians at any level of government after Andrew Bridgen’s resignation (though it did have an ex Conservative councillor in Market Drayton who resigned just a year after his defection), but rumours of its death are exaggerated (despite The Reclaim Party Ltd, failing to submit its accounts on time).

Laurence Fox is openly weighing up another City Hall battle against Count Binface, the party has active social media channels and currently – crucially –Jeremy Hosking continues to financially back both the entity and Mr Fox, viewing the party leader as his “naughty son who is upsetting “the right people”.

The problem is that Laurence Fox is now supposedly upsetting and alienating the hierarchy of his own party.