Nigel Farage will announce today that the Brexit Party is to be rebranded Reform UK. The change has been expected for a while, but the ongoing Covid restrictions are thought to have prompted the timing. Although the application for the name change is said to have preceded Boris Johnson's lockdown u-turn, the party will focus its energies on providing an anti-lockdown voice. This civil liberties ticket should be a short term winner, particularly seeing as there is not a single party in Westminster voicing any opposition to lockdown.
Farage echoed the sentiments of a growing number of Brits in a video released yesterday on his social media channels. Speaking from Washington DC, where he is supporting Donald Trump's re-election campaign, Farage said the lockdown cure is 'worse than the disease'. Is he right or wrong?
A resurgent Farage political vehicle could be a devastating blow to Keir Starmer in 2024, as it was to his predecessors Jeremy Corbyn in 2019 and Ed Miliband in 2015. Contrary to popular belief, both UKIP and the Brexit Party did huge damage to Labour electorally.
The Tory vote across the Red Wall in 2019 barely moved, but they took seats from Labour because Labour lost votes. But where did those votes go, if not to the Conservatives? The overwhelming majority went to the Brexit Party, as they did to UKIP in 2015. Note that both these elections resulted in a Tory majority, whereas the 2017 election did not.
2017 was post-EU referendum and both main parties pledged to respect the result. The huge UKIP vote from 2015 - almost 4 million votes with a 12.6 per cent share - crashed to less than 600,000 and a 1.8 per cent vote share. Those voters did not flock to the Conservatives, they returned to the Labour fold and were a significant factor in wiping out Theresa May's majority.
In 2019, with Brexit under threat, many of these voters deserted Labour again.
Farage is no threat to the Tories, in fact he is one of their greatest weapons.