Politics

Tories heading for ‘warfare’, Farage predicts, as ex-Cabinet minister pleads with voters to ‘unite the right’

Nigel Farage has predicted the Tories will soon descend into “warfare” as a former Conservative minister warned voters about a “Labour elective dictatorship” if they voted for Reform.

The Reform UK leader told The Sunday Telegraph that divisions in the party were only going to “get worse” in the run-up to polling day on 4 July.

Mr Farage was speaking as three polls this week painted a bleak picture for Mr Sunak – and a sunny one for his party.

A poll by Savanta for The Sunday Telegraph showed the Tories down four points to just 21% of the vote – the lowest by that pollster since the dying days of Theresa May’s premiership in early 2019.

In a boost for Mr Farage, the poll showed Reform UK up three points with 13% of the vote.

Election latest: Tories ‘facing electoral extinction’, says pollster

A separate Survation poll for Best for Britain, published by The Sunday Times, predicted the Tories would win just 72 seats in the next parliament, compared with 456 for Labour.

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The result would give Labour a majority of 262 seats – far surpassing the landslide Labour achieved by Tony Blair in 1997 – while the Liberal Democrats would pick up 56 seats, Reform seven and the Greens one seat.

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Earlier in the week, a YouGov poll put Reform ahead of the Tories for the first time – on 19% of the vote, compared with 18% for the Conservatives.

Mr Farage, who is set to launch Reform’s manifesto on Monday, told the Sunday Telegraph that “within a week, you watch… there’ll be warfare within the Conservative Party as there was in the run-up to ’97,” referring to the election when Labour last won a landslide under Mr Blair.

He likened the current divisions in the Conservative Party – chiefly over migration – to splits under former Tory prime minister John Major over joining the Euro.

“In the run-up to ’97, John Major said that he was agnostic about joining the Euro,” he told the newspaper.

“Those who wanted to join the Euro did their own manifesto and raised their own money. It was an absolutely split, divided joke and the same will happen in this election. You watch, it’s coming.

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“You will start to see those MPs, who I agree with on most things, start becoming much more vociferous about their stance as opposed to that of the party. The splits are going to get worse. And to them, I will say: ‘Sorry guys, you are just in the wrong party’.”

It comes as former immigration minister Robert Jenrick, who is touted as a future Tory leader, gave an interview with the same newspaper saying he “shares the frustrations” of traditional Tory voters who are tempted to defect to Reform – but that they should stick with Mr Sunak’s party to avoiding handing Labour a landslide.

“I have immense sympathy for those natural Conservatives who feel let down and drawn to Reform,” he said.

Robert Jenrick
Image:
Robert Jenrick says he has sympathy for those natural Conservatives who feel drawn to Reform

“Not only do I understand their frustrations, I share many of them.

“The tax burden is too high, the criminal justice system too soft and public services too inefficient. My disagreements with the government on immigration policy meant I resigned from cabinet.”

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He added: “But, ultimately, a vote for Reform will only give Labour a blank cheque to take our country back to the 1970s.

“Voting Reform cannot be the answer. It can only bring about a government that increases taxes and immigration. Their success can only weaken the conservative movement. The right cannot unify after the election if there is no meaningful force in parliament to coalesce around.

“Our task is to make conservatives across Britain aware of this peril. If we can do that, and make the case that only a vote for the Conservative Party can prevent a calamitous one-party state come 5 July, then we can avert disaster.”

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