Published On: Sat, Feb 10th, 2024
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Reform taunts Rishi Sunak as PM fights for Brexiteer vote in by-elections | Politics | News

The Conservatives face an all-out battle for the Brexiteer vote this week as they fight to avoid by-election humiliation.

Rishi Sunak’s party has blitzed social media with the warning that voting for Nigel Farage’s Reform UK could hand victory to Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour.

People will go to the polls in the Wellingborough and Kingswood by-elections on Thursday. The Prime Minister can expect backbench panic if Reform – the rebranded Brexit Party – overtakes the Tories.

And he could take a further knock on the same day if the latest economic data shows the country is in recession.

A defiant Mr Sunak insisted he is “totally up for the fight”, saying the economy is “pointing in the right direction”.

However, Labour is the 1/12 favourite to win the Northants seat of Wellingborough – with Reform on 12/1 and the Tories on 16/1.

The election was triggered by a recall petition following the suspension of former MP Peter Bone.

Reform, whose honorary president is former Ukip leader Mr Farage, is tied with the Lib Dems on eight percent in the most recent WeThink poll of adults, behind the Conservatives on 21 percent and Labour on 35. Many Tories fear swathes of blue seats could turn red if Reform stands throughout Britain.

Wellingborough Reform candidate Ben Habib said there was no chance of his party standing aside in seats held by the Conservatives.

He was also sure Mr Sunak would not turn around Tory fortunes before the general election, saying: “No chance. He’s toast.”

A Tory MP said if the plan to send illegal migrants to Rwanda fails with another summer of small boat crossings, it would be “rocket fuel” for Reform.

They also urged the Prime Minister “to be brave and to be a lot more radical”.

Labour is also the favourite to win the South Gloucestershire seat of Kingswood on 1/10, ahead of the Conservatives (9/1) and Reform (25/1). The contest was triggered by the resignation of former Tory climate change tsar Chris Skidmore in protest against oil and gas drilling.

Conservatives hope voters will reject Labour candidate Damien Egan, pointing to his former role as Mayor of Lewisham in London.

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