Reform Party leader Richard Tice to contest by-election after James Brokenshire’s death

‘Voters here did not expect the prime minister to deliver Consocialism, a highly taxed, highly regulated nanny state’

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Saturday 30 October 2021 14:39
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<p>Reform Party leader Richard Tice </p>

Reform Party leader Richard Tice

Richard Tice, the Reform Party leader, has announced he will enter the contest in the Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election, as he hit out against the “Consocialism” of Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party.

Formerly known as the Brexit Party, Mr Tice’s party advocates lower taxes, has campaigned against what it describes as “woke nonsense” and protested against the “erosion” of civil liberties during the coronavirus lockdowns.

The by-election was triggered after the death of James Brokenshire, a former Conservative cabinet minister who died of lung cancer earlier this month at the age of 53.

Mr Brokenshire had served as the MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup since 2010, and last won the seat almost 19,000 votes ahead of his Labour rival – a considerable majority.

The south-east London constituency has also returned a Conservative MP since its creation in 1983 and was previously held by the former prime minister Ted Heath.

Despite the clear Conservative lead in the constituency, Mr Tice told the Daily Telegraph he wanted to send a “powerful message to Boris Johnson” about the impact of the his government’s manifesto-busting decision to increase taxes.

Mr Tice, who replaced Nigel Farage as leader earlier in 2021, argued that electing an MP from Reform, which has not returned an MP to the Commons, including under the title of the Brexit Party, would be a “massive wake up call”.

“Though it is awful that this election is happening at all, I am standing to ensure that a choice is given to the people of Bexley and Sidcup,” said Mr Tice.

“Reform appeal to voters in this traditionally Conservative seat is to use this moment to send a powerful message to Boris Johnson and his Cabinet. Voters here did not expect the prime minister to deliver Consocialism, a highly taxed, highly regulated nanny state.

“We now have the highest overall taxes for 70 years and the lowest medium term growth forecasts for 60 years. It means authoritarian controls and record long waiting lists.

“It means much higher energy costs even as we approach the foothills of the net zero cost mountain.”

On Saturday, the Conservatives also selected Louie French, a councillor of eight years who previously served as deputy leader of Bexley council from 2018-2021, to contest the seat.

Mr French said: “James Brokenshire was a friend and mentor to me and it’s an honour to have been selected as the Conservative candidate for Old Bexley and Sidcup, where I hope to carry on his excellent work.

“I will campaign to ensure that outer London areas like Old Bexley and Sidcup are not forgotten or left behind by the mayor of London and City Hall.

“And I will work to improve access to GPs and healthcare services, building directly on James’ work with Queen Mary’s Hospital, so residents can get a face-to-face GP appointment at a time that suits them.”

Labour has already selected Daniel Francis – a Bexley councillor and former leader of the Labour group on the council.

In a video message, Mr Francis, who lives in the constituency, said he would work “tirelessly” for the community if elected.

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