Iain Duncan Smith, Dominic Raab and Theresa Villiers are among a group of Tory MPs who stand to lose their seats if the Tories face a resurgent populist party led by Nigel Farage alongside a Labor swing in the next election, said experts.
Their constituencies are among hundreds of Tory-held constituencies where the Brexit Party failed to stand in the 2019 general election, but already slim majorities would be destroyed by Britain’s Reform candidates attracting even a relatively small number of voters .
They include more than 30 seats held by the Tories alone – many in supposed ‘blue wall’ areas of southern England – where the incumbent MP is already defending a majority of less than 10%, according to the analysis of data from the Library of the House of Commons.
“There is a significant slice of seats where the Tory majority over Labor or Liberal Democrats is not significant, and there was no Brexit Party candidate last time around. If a Brexit Party type candidate shows up next time, the Tory MP struggles even before any swing to the local opposition,” said Professor Rob Ford of the University of Manchester, author of The British General Election of 2019 and Brexitland.
A return to frontline politics by Farage – now a broadcaster with GB News but who has hinted he could return – is the necessary caveat from Ford, and others like Professor John Curtice, for a storyline. in which Reform is able to capitalize on recent polling – such as a YouGov find putting the party at 9%.
“Reform UK needs Farage back, and if he does – given that there is an immigration issue he has to rely on – then the Tories would have good reason to be concerned,” said said Curtice, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde. , who added that Reform UK was the means by which pro-Brexit voters could show their dissatisfaction with the Conservatives’ economic mismanagement while remaining loyal to their leave powers.
Farage is listed on Companies House as a “person with significant control” over Reform UK, which is registered as a limited liability company and has been run by businessman Richard Tice since March 2021.
However, the fall of Boris Johnson and skepticism over the Brexiteer credentials of Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt, who have backed staying, have fueled speculation that Farage will return alongside a small but steady stream of Tory voters. disillusioned and former members joined Reform UK.
While the party says thousands of Tories have joined, a weekly trickle seems to be at least evident on Facebook pages where Tory defectors are announced and praised.
Sources close to Farage say he is debating whether he should return imminently or wait until a Labor government decides to introduce proportional representation, which would pave the way for MPs from a new radical right-wing party, like Reform UK or a renamed version.
Tice did not rule out a return of Farage when the Guardian pitched him the scenario of Farage becoming “CEO” with Tice as “Chairman”. The former Ukip leader was ‘a busy guy with GB News’, Tice said, adding: ‘No one is more furious with the state of the country than someone like Nigel who spent 25 years of his life trying to get to Brexit to showcase their platform of opportunity and then see that others have wasted it.
However, he said in no uncertain terms that Reform UK was “absolutely determined” to stand everywhere except Northern Ireland.
“The best thing for the country would be for us to get rid of the Tories and hopefully we are witnessing the last days of the last Conservative majority government of my life,” said Tice, who predicted the “key element” would be the introduction of proportional representation in three or four years.
Reform UK has planned to roll out a series of policies over the next few weeks in a bid to capitalize on the momentum in the polls, despite a disappointing performance in the recent Chester by-election in which the party failed to win. obtained only 2.74% of the votes.