Nigel Farage could win Reform UK as many as four seats at general election, says YouGov

Exclusive: Nigel Farage’s decision to stand could see Reform compete for seats in several constituencies, says pollster

Alicja Hagopian
Data Correspondent, Politics
Tuesday 04 June 2024 18:12 BST
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Leader of Reform UK Nigel Farage launches his general election campaign in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex
Leader of Reform UK Nigel Farage launches his general election campaign in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex (James Manning/PA Wire)

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Nigel Farage’s decision to stand as MP and take over as party leader could change Reform UK’s chances of winning seats in the general election, says polling firm YouGov.

Reform was on course to come out of the election empty-handed, according to forecasts on Monday.

But the data’s release came hours before The Independent broke the news that Nigel Farage had decided to stand as the party’s candidate in Clacton, Essex.

According to YouGov’s director of political analytics, Patrick English, the announcement “significantly increases the odds” that Reform could win at least one seat – and even up to four.

He told The Independent: “I do think that Farage intervening significantly increases the odds of Reform UK winning one, perhaps even two seats in Westminster. You might even put an upper band of four on that, depending on what exactly happens between now and 4 July.”

He added: “Certainly, it will improve Reform’s prospects. It will give them a highly competent, highly experienced strong messenger in Nigel Farage to go out, not just in Clacton, but around the rest of the country, to try and deliver that Reform UK message.”

Which seats could go to Reform?

Before Mr Farage’s announcement, YouGov predicted that no seat would be won by Reform, despite 300 candidates throwing their hat in the ring. Any Reform win is still far from certain.

The seats to watch are those where Reform is fielding its heavy hitters, according to Mr English.

He said: “[For Reform successes], we’re looking at Clacton. We’re looking at Ashfield, because Lee Anderson is standing there trying to defend his seat as a defector. We’re looking at Boston and Skegness where Richard Tice is standing.”

YouGov’s polling analysis on Monday suggested that Reform has a margin of 15 points or more to close in its top constituencies, even in Ashfield, where former Tory Mr Anderson hopes to retain the seat.

In Clacton, Reform was 22 points behind the Conservatives, but this gap is expected to close considerably with Mr Farage replacing Tony Mack as the candidate.

Clacton is the only seat ever won by Ukip, Mr Farage’s former party, when it was retained in 2015 by Tory defector Douglas Carswell. In 2019, it was gained for the Conservatives by former actor Giles Watling.

In addition, Mr English suggests keeping an eye on seats in South Yorkshire, where Reform might find success among previous Ukip and Brexit voters.

“We’re also looking up toward Barnsley and Doncaster,” said Mr English. “There are a couple of seats there where the Brexit Party did very well in 2019, but I think Reform UK could potentially be very strong there as well.”

He added: “It’s important to maintain the distinction between Ukip and Reform. One thing that’s very prominent is, of course, Nigel Farage is no longer talking about Brexit, and that was Ukip’s sole purpose. The switch has now gone to focusing on immigration and British cultural values. It is a different party, but a lot of its supporters and all of its base will be very similar.”

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