Nigel Farage’s natural supporters won’t buy his lockdown sceptic party

New research suggests that the rebranded Brexit Party is going to have to rebrand all over again, writes John Rentoul

Thursday 11 February 2021 17:15
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<p>Farage and Donald Trump may be lockdown sceptics, but their followers are not</p>

Farage and Donald Trump may be lockdown sceptics, but their followers are not

Nigel Farage’s renamed party has a problem, in that it was formed to fight the lockdown, which is likely to be lifting, if not lifted, by the time of its first electoral test, the elections on 6 May. I wrote that on Tuesday, and now a new study suggests the problem for Reform UK is even more serious.

Research by my colleagues at King’s College London suggests that Leave voters tend to support the lockdown as much as Remainers do. This seems surprising, because most leading lockdown sceptics are Brexiteers. Among public figures, the Venn diagram of Euroscepticism and lockdown scepticism seems to consist mostly of overlap. 

Yet the research suggests that among the wider population, the values that divide Leavers and Remainers are not those that separate the supporters and opponents of coronavirus restrictions. James Dennison and Bobby Duffy, the study’s authors, report: “Those valuing universalism were the strongest supporters of Remain, and those valuing security and tradition were the strongest backers of Leave. But these two groups now find themselves somewhat united in support of lockdowns.”

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