Reform UK targets disaffected Tory seats as membership ‘explodes’

Richard Tice delivers first Reform UK speech of 2023

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Reform UK will target dissatisfied Conservative Party seats at the next election, as membership of the party continues to grow. The party, which is trying to offer voters a “common sense” alternative to the Conservative party, has seen a surge in membership in the last few months. Reform Leader Richard Tice said that the Party’s membership “exploded” amid leadership turmoil in the Conservative Party, following the resignation of Liz Truss last year.

The party, which was once known as the Brexit Party, is currently polling at around seven percent, making them about as popular as the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party.

Mr Tice told the Financial Times: “The day Liz Truss got ousted, party membership exploded. We had our record day in terms of sign ups.”

He has pledged to stand a Reform candidate against every single Conservative Party candidate at the next election.

In 2019, the Brexit Party, at the time led by Nigel Farage, agreed not to put up candidates for election in 317 seats against the Tories.

When asked if the party would stand aside for Conservative candidates who backed the party’s low-tax policy platform, he said: “Absolutely not.”

Speaking about the pledge to stand against Tory candidates, he added: “It’s a 110 percent, cast-iron guarantee. We’ve already got 600 candidates, we will stand everywhere.

“I think people are starting to realise that we’re serious about this.

“For obvious reasons, some people have ignored us until now, but we’ve got momentum. We’re equal or above the Lib Dems.”

Mr Tice told the Guardian that the surge in membership since Ms Truss was ousted is a “sign of people’s fury and anger because they know that there’s been an establishment coup.”

He added: “The Establishment has taken back control from the people who asked to take back control from Brussels. And it’s utterly appalling.”

While Rishi Sunak appears to have restored stability to the party after the turmoil of Ms Truss and her predecessor Boris Johnson, many Tory MPs and voters are currently unhappy about the swathe of tax rises he introduced in his Autumn Statement, taking taxes to their highest level since World War 2.

Many MPs are looking to see how the party performs at May’s local elections, with some holding the view that this will be a pivotal moment for Mr Sunak’s premiership.

Although Mr Tice’s party currently has no MPs, at a New Year press conference in London he said his mission is to make sure the Conservative Party “never have a majority Government again”.

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Mr Tice said Britain had been “broken” by 12 years of Tory rule, hours before Rishi Sunak gave a speech setting out his priorities for 2023, which included reducing NHS waiting times and inflation.

He told reporters: “I think the Tory Party… deserve to be smashed and destroyed given what they’ve done to the country.”

Explaining the party’s mission, Mr Tice said earlier this week: “Reform UK is a party that believes that this is a great country that is full of so much potential that is being wasted because we are badly managed by politicians and civil servants.

“We’re badly governed by institutions such as the cronyism of the House of Lords, the bias of the BBC, the incompetence of some of the quangos.

“You can tell by the mood of the nation at the moment. People are despairing. People are cross. People are losing hope in so many ways. There’s so much potential – but it’s being wasted.”

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