This time Nigel Farage is aiming higher. Just how will the Tories keep a lid on the tinder box?

13 June 2024, 11:35 | Updated: 13 June 2024, 15:57

The Conservatives thought they had kept a lid on the tinder box that is Nigel Farage, writes Henry Riley
The Conservatives thought they had kept a lid on the tinder box that is Nigel Farage, writes Henry Riley. Picture: Alamy
Henry Riley

By Henry Riley

Nigel Farage is undoubtedly one of the great survivors of British politics. The controversial ex-UKIP leader is now back at the forefront of campaigning - why? Because he smells blood, and the opportunity to hammer the Conservatives is too irresistible a challenge to ignore.

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Cast your mind back to the 2015 seven-way leaders debate - Mr Farage dominated proceedings. He has seen off countless political party leaders over the years. This time, however, he is hoping to bury the Tory party once and for all. It’s personal.

Since Mr Farage parachuted himself back to the helm of Reform UK (previously the Brexit Party) he has hardly had a moment to enjoy a pint of Spitfire with a side of Benson & Hedges.

Relentless media exposure has included a grilling over controversial candidates, and rightful condemnation of the appalling behaviour aimed at him on campaign visits - with objects lobbed towards him.

This morning on Nick Ferrari’s LBC show he once again demonstrated the headache he will - and currently is - posing to Rishi Sunak’s conservatives.

He claimed to be the only leader speaking with “crowds of people” as opposed to carefully orchestrated campaign photo stunts. He boasted about daring to break the consensus, to “speak about things others won’t touch”.  But crucially, and differently, this time he is aiming higher. 

When asked by Nick if he would lead a Conservative-Reform coalition he not only entertained the idea, he seemed positively feverish by the prospect.

“Do I think I'm capable of leading a national opposition to a Labour Party with a big majority, where I can stand up and hold them to account on issues? Yes"

“I would be prepared to lead the centre right in this country. A centre right that stands up for business, that believes in borders and that isn't scared of standing up for the British people".

A seat in the House of Commons (after 7 failed attempts previously) would clearly be just the beginning for the Reform UK leader. He wants to be the most influential political figure on the ‘right’ of UK politics. 

Salivating over the prospect of a dying Conservative Party Nigel Farage admits, both in private and in public, that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to mould the party he was once a proud member of. 

Suella Braverman once described her “dream” of picking up a copy of the Daily Telegraph and seeing a flight to Rwanda on the front page. For Nigel Farage, he would be ecstatic to see an exit poll on election night with the Conservatives winning 100 seats or fewer.

With Mr Farage battling with both Nick Ferrari and LBC listeners, you could be forgiven for experiencing Deja vu. He’s only been leader for 9 days by this point, but it’s like he never left. 

Quizzed about controversial London candidate Steve Chilcot, Farage claimed he had "never heard of him".

How about Jake Fraser in Cheshire? “Never heard of him” replied Nigel Farage. It’s a well rehearsed routine he has mastered for several years. This is not a democratic outfit. This is Nigel’s party and everyone else is not only easily dispensable, but completely irrelevant.

He may not have drastically altered his ‘act’, but he is a ‘master of the dark arts’. He manages to cause a racket at every election. This election is “the immigration election” he recently proclaimed - and expect that to play a prominent role. 

Expect more controversial candidate revelations, further pictures of him enjoying a pint, more carefully constructed remarks to cause outrage, and more idiots taking matters into their own hands by attacking him. 

A man who has won two national elections with two different political parties for nearly one hundred years, and yet is a serial loser when it comes to the House of Commons - but is that about to change?

The Conservatives thought they had kept a lid on the tinder box that is Nigel Farage - but today’s phone in shows that the gloves are completely off.