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Nigel Farage shakes up UK election, establishment on return to politics: ‘British Trump’

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Maverick populist leader Nigel Farage sent shockwaves across Britain’s general election as he returned to frontline politics last week, with his party set to disrupt the Conservative Party’s centuries-old grip as the most popular right-wing force in the country.

Farage announced on Monday that he will lead the right-wing Reform UK party and seek a seat in Parliament for the seaside town of Clacton-on-Sea in the July 4 general election to ‘make Britain great again.’

‘So I’m back. I’m standing as a candidate in this election. I’ve taken the leadership over of Reform UK,’ Farage said in a video posted to X, referring to the successor of the Brexit Party. ‘You know why? I see our country going down the drain. I believe in Britain. These boring idiots that lead the Labour and Conservative parties are not worth the space.’

The announcement comes after Farage’s nearly half-decade hiatus from political campaigning amid the success of the Brexit campaign to leave the European Union (EU). Britain voted to leave the EU in the contentious 2016 referendum and formally departed in 2020.

‘I can’t turn my back on those millions of people who followed me, believed in me,’ Farage said in a speech. ‘I’ve changed my mind because I can’t let down millions of people.’

Farage’s campaign launch did not go without problems, as a woman threw a McDonald’s milkshake over him as he left an event. Local police arrested the woman on suspicion of assault.

The populist leader’s political comeback is set to shake up the already fragile election campaign of the Conservative Party led by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who called a surprise snap election last month amid declining popularity and internal party turmoil. 

A YouGov poll this week stated that Farage-led Reform UK is trailing behind the Conservative party by just two points and may soon eclipse it as the country’s second most popular political party. The poll stated that around 17% of the surveyed voters would back Reform UK, with 19% voting for the Conservative Party. 

The Labour Party, led by Keir Starmer, would receive the overwhelming 40% of the vote and is set to gain the majority of seats in Parliament, according to the same poll.

‘Finally the U.K. has a politician willing to stand up and say what the people have been saying for years,’ Thomas Corbet-Dillon, a former adviser to former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, told Fox News Digital. ‘No more immigration. The majority of issues facing our country, lack of housing, overwhelmed health services and lack of jobs has been made worse by the Conservative Party, who have imported millions of people from the third world, against the wishes of the people.’

He noted, ‘Nigel Farage has become the most important politician in the U.K. and may actually live up to the title of the British Trump,’ adding, ‘Farage is breaking the establishment Conservative Party just like Trump broke the establishment Republican Party in 2016. MAGA Americans should support Nigel and the Reform Party from across the pond.’

Former Conservative cabinet minister Nadine Dorries, who served under the government of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, speculated that Reform UK is on track to take over as the country’s main right-wing party.

‘I’m guessing that after the appalling events of the past few days over candidate selection, that Reform will have overtaken us in the polls by Saturday evening,’ Dorries said on X, referring to internal clashes within the party over selecting which candidates are allowed to run in select areas.

The Conservative campaign has so far failed to pick up steam and has been marred by a series of political miscalculations, while Reform UK is gaining momentum and outflanking the Conservatives over right-wing issues such as immigration and patriotism.

Sunak was forced to issue a groveling apology on Friday after he left a D-Day commemoration event early to conduct an election interview that will air only next week. ‘After the conclusion of the British event in Normandy, I returned back to the UK. On reflection, it was a mistake not to stay in France longer – and I apologise,’ Sunak wrote on X.

Farage seized on Sunak’s D-Day error, saying the Conservative leader ‘could not even be bothered to attend the international event above Omaha Beach,’ adding in another post on X, ‘Patriotic people who love their country should not vote for him.’

The Tories, as the Conservatives are commonly called, sought to counteract the rising popularity of Reform UK by promising to curb immigration, highlighting the introduced scheme to send some asylum-seekers to Rwanda as a deterrent against illegal migration.

Reform UK, meanwhile, committed to an aggressive crackdown on immigration, proposing a ‘one in, one out’ migration quota and increasing taxes on foreign employees.

Net migration levels soared to nearly 700,000 last year, a figure that both the Conservatives and the Labour Party promised to reduce if elected.

Farage’s party represents the most potent challenge to the Conservative Party’s domination as the country’s premier right-wing political force, likely reshaping the party and pushing it further to the right.

In 2016, at the peak of the campaign to leave the EU, Farage’s previous pro-Brexit political party, the UK Independence Party (UKIP), polled at around 17%, forcing Conservatives to move rightwards and adopt the policies of the insurgent populists.

In the 2019 election, Farage’s Brexit Party agreed to stand down candidates and not oppose Conservative candidates in exchange for the Conservative Party agreeing to a timely departure from the EU without any delays. Reform UK and Farage have ruled out a similar deal this election.

Farage and his party are currently projected to win only four seats in the new Parliament due to Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system, in which the candidate with the most votes in the area wins the seat.

The party is expected to massively contribute to the Conservatives’ electoral defeat by splitting the right-leaning vote, paving the way for Labour Party candidates. 

‘Farage knows that Reform won’t win any seats, but he doesn’t seem to care that a vote for Reform only helps Labour. He’s doing exactly what Keir Starmer wants him to do,’ the Conservative Party said in a statement.

In Clacton, despite the town’s overwhelming support for right-leaning candidates, Farage will face a tough competition against his Conservative rival Giles Watling. 

This will be Farage’s eighth attempt to win a seat in Parliament.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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