Former Brexit champion Nigel Farage abandoning UK general election to help Trump’s campaign, he says

The former Ukip leader said he has decided to help with Donald Trump’s re-election bid in the US instead

Archie Mitchell
Thursday 23 May 2024 17:39
Tory MP Robert Jenrick 'not opposed' to welcoming Nigel Farage back to party

Nigel Farage is not standing as a candidate in the UK general election, he has announced.

The former Ukip leader said he thought “long and hard” about contesting the general election, but has decided to help with Donald Trump’s re-election bid in the US instead.

“Important though the general election is, the contest in the United States of America on 5 November has huge global significance,” Mr Farage said.

Despite not standing as a candidate, Mr Farage, who is Reform’s honorary president, said he will “do my bit to help in the campaign”.

Nigel Farage will instead focus on Donald Trump’s bid to return to the White House
Nigel Farage will instead focus on Donald Trump’s bid to return to the White House (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

“But it is not the right time for me to go any further than that,” Mr Farage said.

He offered his full support to Reform and its current leader Richard Tice, adding that the choice between Labour and the Tories is “uninspiring”.

“Only Reform have the radical agenda that is needed to end decline in this country,” he said. Mr Farage has unsuccessfully stood for election to the House of Commons seven times, losing each by significant margins.

The shock announcement will be a major relief for Rishi Sunak, whose Conservative Party risked losing swathes of support if Mr Farage took on a frontline role with Reform.

The party is sitting in third place in the polls, with more support than the Liberal Democrats on 12 per cent. And while it may not win a single seat in the election, the Conservatives have been warned Reform may split the vote and risk their majorities in tens of seats.

Donald Trump being interviewed by Nigel Farage
Donald Trump being interviewed by Nigel Farage (The Independent)

It was founded as the Brexit Party by Mr Farage but is now led by Mr Tice, a multimillionaire former Tory donor.

A long-time Eurosceptic, Mr Tice made his fortune in the property business, following in the footsteps of his grandfather who once sought to demolish London’s landmark Ritz Hotel to make way for offices.

In the run-up to the 2016 EU referendum he displayed a similar iconoclasm, teaming up with fellow businessman Arron Banks to form Leave.EU rather than joining the Vote Leave campaign fronted by Boris Johnson and backed by many Brexit-supporting Tories.

The group was responsible for some of the more controversial adverts of the campaign with images of migrants pouring across a border, helping to earn them the sobriquet – along with Mr Farage – of “the bad boys of Brexit”.

A Tory member for all his adult life, Mr Tice finally broke with the party in 2019 in frustration at the failure of Theresa May’s government to deliver on the referendum result.

Instead, he joined Mr Farage’s new Brexit Party (as Reform was originally called), becoming party chairman and securing election as MEP for East of England in final European parliamentary elections held in the UK.

When Mr Farage decided to give up the leadership in March 2021 – having accepted Brexit was secure and “won’t be reversed” – Mr Tice was the obvious successor.

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