Nigel Farage: Reform UK wins first seat as Anderson returns as MP...

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Published Time: 04.07.2024 - 21:46:24 Modified Time: 04.07.2024 - 21:46:24

Farage pointed to the first two results in north-east England, where Reform easily beat the Conservatives to come second, winning almost 30% of the vote. Nigel Farage, reform uk

Farage pointed to the first two results in north-east England, where Reform easily beat the Conservatives to come second, winning almost 30% of the vote.

Reform, which was formed in 2018 as the Brexit Party, is forecast to win 13 MPs, according to an exit poll for the BBC, ITV and Sky.

This is more than many polls during the campaign had predicted.

However, the figure is highly uncertain, as the model suggests there are many places where the party only has a relatively low chance of winning.

Polling expert Sir John Curtice said Reform had benefited from a significant fall in the Conservative vote in seats the party had previously held, as well as advancing most in areas where voted Leave in the 2016 referendum.

More than 70% of in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, voted for Brexit.

In an early sign of Reform's success in winning over former Tory voters, the first two results of the night - in Blyth and Ashington and in Houghton and Sunderland South - saw the party beat the Conservatives by more than 4,000 votes.

In a video posted on social media, Mr Farage said the two results were "more than any possible prediction or projection".

"It’s almost unbelievable," he said.

"It means we’re going to win seats, many, many seats I think right now across the country...

"This is going to be six million votes-plus. This folks, is huge."

However, in Barnsley North, where the exit poll had forecast a 99% likelihood of Reform taking the seat, Labour held the seat with an increased majority of 7,811.

Reform's candidate, Robert Lomas, who was disowned by the party last week for offensive comments on social media, came in second place.

Some of the seats Reform is forecast to win could also come from Labour.

But a Labour Party source told the BBC: "Our data is suggesting Reform will not win many of the seats the exit poll suggests. They will get less than 13 seats."

Among Reform’s top targets is Clacton in Essex, where Mr Farage is hoping to overturn a Conservative majority of 24,702.

The exit poll suggests a 99%-plus likelihood that Mr Farage will gain the seat.

Earlier, Dr David Bull, the party's co-deputy leader, told BBC Radio 4 if the exit poll was right "this is an historic breakthrough".

He suggested so-called "shy Reformers" could be behind the party gaining more seats than expected, with some unwilling to tell pollsters they were planning to vote for the party.

Mr Farage has said he is aiming for Reform to become the main opposition to Labour by the time of the next election.

His surprise announcement that he was standing in the election, after previously saying he would not, saw a jump in Reform's poll ratings.

At the same time, he took over from Richard Tice as Reform's leader and he has played a prominent role in the party's campaign.

The former UKIP and Brexit Party leader has stood unsuccessfully to be an MP seven times, most recently in South Thanet, Kent, in the 2015 general election, when he finished second behind the Tory candidate.

Clacton was the first constituency to elect a UKIP MP in 2014, after former Tory MP Douglas Carswell defected to the party and triggered a by-election, which he won.

He was unseated by Conservative Giles Watling in 2017, who is fighting to retain the seat.

More than 70% of voters in the Essex constituency supported leaving the European Union in the 2016 referendum.

In 2019 Reform's previous incarnation, the Brexit Party, stood aside in more than 300 seats previously won by the Tories, amid concerns it could split the pro-Brexit vote.

However, this time the party contested 630 seats across England, Scotland and Wales.

Fielding an almost full slate of candidates in Great Britain posed challenges for the party.

Reform has had to disown six of them over offensive comments since nominations closed.

The party has blamed the surprise announcement of a July election, as well as claiming a company it hired to conduct background checks on would-be candidates failed to carry out vetting before the election was called.

Two Reform candidates also defected to the Conservatives over what they said was a failure of the party’s leadership to tackle the issue.

However, it was too late to remove any of these candidates so they still appeared for the party on ballot papers.

According to the exit poll, Labour are on track to overtake the SNP as Scotland's biggest party.

The party is predicted to win 61 seats and hopes to unseat some ministers including the chancellor.

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