A Return for Conservatism? Farage Relaunches ‘Reform UK’
Online Sport Editor Harry Scott-Munro takes a look at the return to politics of Nigel Farage and his newly rebranded Reform UK party.
Like a phoenix from the flames, Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party have been reborn, now rebranded to Reform UK.
For those on the Thatcherite centre-right of the political spectrum, this is a welcome boost that will send shockwaves through a Conservative party that has slipped ever further towards the centrist left and beyond in recent months.
With Boris Johnson’s government alienating more and more Conservatives with every passing day, Reform UK now offers a tangible threat to his premiership. Like a phoenix from the flames, Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party have been reborn, now rebranded to Reform UK. For those on the Thatcherite centre-right of the political spectrum, this is a welcome boost that will send shockwaves through a Conservative party that has slipped ever further towards the centrist left and beyond in recent months.
Mr Farage’s announcement has already caused a significant reaction, with prominent Tory backbenchers Steve Baker and Mark Harper setting up the Covid Recovery Group within the Conservative Party. You feel that if Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock continue down the path they are currently treading, this large group of 80-plus MPs will be the first to side with Reform UK politically going forward.
It isn’t as if Reform UK as they will now be known, are an ‘outlier’ either, to use a term Health Secretary Matt Hancock seems to use with growing frequency, to tarnish anybody who dares to challenge or disagree with him. So far, over 3000 people have registered interest in standing for Reform UK at the local elections next year and that number looks increasingly likely to grow.
For all that people may say about Nigel Farage and Richard Tice, they remain two of the very few people in politics that are able to read the public mood, understand the frustrations of the “silent majority” and act upon it, wading through the agenda-ridden media bias that so frequently rises to the fore. Until a few days ago, number 10 had one of those few people themselves in Dominic Cummings. His departure however, along with Nick Cain, leaves the Johnson premiership in an increasingly precarious position, with Reform UK looking to take up the mantle.
Several commentators have claimed that the party is looking for an opportunistic way to relaunch itself. Whilst this may well be true, isn’t that what all parties look to do? In fact, isn’t that the very definition of what a political party does when appealing to the masses?
For all that people may say about Nigel Farage and Richard Tice, they remain two of the very few people in politics that are able to read the public mood
The main mantra of the party this time round is an end to lockdowns and an end to mandatory mask wearing. For all the naysayers that claim this is dangerous and is a threat, surely it is in fact just offering another way? Take Sweden, amongst others. Their rolling 7-day average for Covid related deaths currently sits at 12. They issued guidance rather than mandatory regulation, giving those that are slightly more fearful the opportunity to wear a mask and shield if they would prefer but also allowing those who would rather not to get on with their lives, rather than being made out to be a social pariah simply for wanting to have the freedom and the right to make their own choice, right or wrong.
If Boris Johnson continues down the line he seems so eager to, in direct contradiction to the manifesto that allowed him to secure an 80 seat majority less than a year ago, it seems increasingly likely that not only will there be a challenge to his leadership from within the Conversative Party but that public mood within the silent majority will have shifted so severely that Reform UK may well become kingmakers at the next election, as they did without securing a seat in 2019. Their decision to come to a working agreement with the Conservatives and not challenge in constituencies in which the standing Conservative candidate and the constituency itself had overwhelmingly supported Brexit, was the key to Boris’ victory, avoiding the threat of splitting the potential Conservative vote.
However, with the threat of a ‘Brexit betrayal’ still very real considering the departures of Cummings and Cain, such political niceties will not be afforded to the Conservative party this time around. It is for that reason that Baker and Harper have taken the steps they have. Simply put, this is currently a Conservative government in name only and that presents Reform UK with the perfect opportunity to become kingmakers in British politics.
Only time will tell as to where this trend takes British politics, although history suggests that major global events tend to allow a new party to take the place of an ailing ruling party at the time. With every passing day, that becomes a very real possibility for the Conservative party in its current form.