Nigel Farage says Reform support nearing electoral tipping point for Tories

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Nigel Farage has said support for Reform UK is nearing an electoral tipping point for the Conservatives, as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faced calls from some of his own MPs to unite with the insurgent right-wing party.

Farage, leader of Reform, told a press conference on Monday that Tory candidates were “slowly but surely waking up and smelling the coffee” about the threat his party would pose in the general election on July 4.

“They are realising that many of their longest term and — as they would have seen it — most loyal supporters say ‘enough is enough’,” Farage said, as he claimed Sunak’s decision to leave D-Day commemorations early had gone down “very badly” with voters.

“He didn’t understand what it meant to people,” said Farage at the event in London. “This is your classic Winchester, Oxford, Goldman Sachs . . . Does he even meet ordinary people? I doubt it. He doesn’t even understand the centre of gravity in our country.”

Senior Conservatives last week accused Sunak, who has since apologised, of handing Farage’s party “a gift” by returning home early from France, and some Tories fear Reform could soon overtake them in opinion polls.

The party is continuing to eat into the right flank of the Conservative party, and is now averaging about 12 per cent in the polls, according to the Financial Times UK general election poll tracker.

Two polls last week found Reform was two percentage points behind the Conservatives after Farage surprised Westminster by announcing he would run to be the next MP for Clacton and take the helm of Reform.

Farage on Monday hit out at some pollsters’ decision not to immediately list Reform in surveys alongside major parties and only raise the party if a voter said they did not know who they planned to support.

“I still believe we can get more votes from the country than the Conservatives,” he said, adding that Reform had gained 15,000 new members in recent weeks.

Farage’s comments came after former home secretary Suella Braverman said she would welcome the arch-Brexiter into the Tory party and that it was time to “unite the right” because there was little difference between the two.

Former cabinet minister Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg last week urged Sunak to do a deal with Farage.

Farage said Braverman represented a “small part of the parliamentary party” and he had “spat quite a lot” of his morning tea out after hearing her claim the policies of the two parties “weren’t very different”.

Sunak on Monday said he would not resign as Tory leader before July 4 following criticism of his faltering election campaign. “I’m not going to stop going, I’m not going to stop fighting for people’s votes,” he told reporters on a visit to West Sussex.

Reform also set out at its press conference a series of economic policies including raising the tax-free personal allowance from £12,570 to £20,000, and overhauling the Bank of England’s money printing operation to pay for pledges.

Party chair Richard Tice said the BoE was generating “huge losses” for the taxpayer by paying the bank rate on reserves held as part of its quantitative easing programme.

“I believe it’s gross negligence doing what the Bank of England is doing,” he said, adding that Reform would block the central bank from paying interest to commercial banks on their reserves as part of its QE policies.

Interest on the £770bn of reserves the BoE holds on behalf of commercial banks is now paid at the central bank’s benchmark rate of 5.25 per cent. 

Removing interest on roughly 10 per cent of commercial banks’ reserves would generate £55bn over the next five years, according to analysis by the New Economics Foundation, a left-wing think-tank.

Tice said Reform had not decided whether to remove interest outright or to introduce a tiered regime. It will publish its manifesto, labelled a “contract with the people”, on June 17.

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