3 Jun 2024

Nigel Farage: ‘People who say they will vote Labour won’t – when they see I’m here’

Nigel Farage has thrown a curveball into the election by announcing he’d take over as Reform UK leader and stand for parliament in Clacton.

We spoke to Nigel Farage shortly after he announced he’d run, and we started by putting it to him that voting Reform on 4 July helps Labour get a bigger majority.

Nigel Farage: Do you know what? I heard this argument back in 2015 from Channel 4 and many others, and it turned out to be wrong because we took more votes from the Labour Party than the Conservatives.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: It’s different circumstances though, now, isn’t it?

Nigel Farage: Very different circumstances. So there’s a 10% swing away from the Conservatives already towards Reform. These are red-wall voters who will not go back to the Conservatives under any circumstances. My guess is that from here, if we move forward in the polls in the way that I believe and hope we can, we’ll probably take evenly from Labour and Conservative. This election’s over. It’s over. It’s going to be a Labour majority. The debate is who forms the opposition.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: But you must think that you will be taking votes from the Conservatives, because that’s where your opportunity is to win seats.

Nigel Farage: Point one, there is no Conservative Party. It doesn’t exist. It’s a series of factions that hate each other. And point two, a lot of those people who are saying they’re going to vote Labour won’t when they see that I’m here and what I’m standing for in this election.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: Is your commitment five years, even if you lose in Clacton?

Nigel Farage: Yes, absolutely.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: So you would be a leader outside parliament, just like Richard Tice has been?

Nigel Farage: Just as I was in many, many years, as you know, I was in the European Parliament, not the British Parliament. But still, I think, a catalyst for a major transformational change in British politics.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: What’s really unconventional about Reform is that you’re a company and that you’re the majority shareholder. So you’re able to sort of do whatever you want effectively, aren’t you? You can decide policy. You can decide if you’re the leader or not. You can decide who the candidates are. You’re sort of a one man internal dictatorship.

Nigel Farage: That’s how things start in life. We’re a very, very new organisation, and that will grow and expand and democratise over time. You have my word on that.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: So you’re going to stop being a company, are you, and become a normal political party? When will you do that?

Nigel Farage: I don’t know about that.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: You’re going to stay as a company?

Nigel Farage: Does it really matter?

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: It does in that there’s no sort of internal party democracy to sort of create policy or leadership. You can’t be removed, can you, as leader?

Nigel Farage: Actually, under our constitution, I can, so you’re wrong about that.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: How?

Nigel Farage: Because if two thirds of the members said I had to go, I’d have to go.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: The big issue for you is immigration. Given the current choices between Labour and the Conservatives, which of their immigration policies do you think is the most acceptable to you and Reform voters?

Nigel Farage: Neither. Labour opened the door in a way that had never been seen in history. The Conservatives accelerated it. Frankly, right now, I cannot spot the difference between them.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: And what would your immigration policy be?

Nigel Farage: We can’t go on the way we are. It’s incredible really, when you think about it…

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: What would you do?

Nigel Farage: That’s very easy. You up the levels and you say it’s skilled labour only.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: Obviously there was a huge number of skilled visas given out over the last year by this government. I’m just wondering which categories you would knock out.

Nigel Farage: We have to get net migration down to as close as zero as we possibly can for a period of time. We cannot go on like this. It is a disaster for our country, and actually it’s been dividing the country as well.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: You’re standing in Clacton. Your candidate there was in a bit of trouble over some things he’d written that were allegedly antisemitic and anti-Muslim. So you probably had to get rid of him anyway. And there are a couple of other candidates you’ve had to ditch as well. Do you think Richard Tice has been a bit asleep on the job when it comes to candidates? Are you going to do a review of all your candidates?

Nigel Farage: Have a look at the Tory MPs caught up in all sorts of scandals. Labour MPs as well. I don’t think problems with candidates or individuals is unique to Reform, do you?

Krishnan Guru-Murthy: No, definitely not. But I wonder what you’re going to do about it.

Nigel Farage: We’ve got a vetting system in place, and I hope we’re going to weed out those that ought not to be there. We’re doing our best.