Farage’s Return Sees Reform Party Close on Tories, YouGov Says

(Bloomberg) -- The return of Brexit architect Nigel Farage as leader of Reform UK and a candidate in next month’s general election has seen the right-wing party close to within just two points of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s governing Conservatives, threatening a dire election result for the premier, a new poll by YouGov showed.

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Some 17% of people surveyed said they would vote for Reform, up from 15% last week, according to YouGov. Sunak’s Tories were on 19%, down two points. The Labour Party, led by Keir Starmer, was on 40%, giving it a 21-point lead over the Conservatives. The survey was mostly conducted after Farage announced on Monday that he would take the helm of the insurgent party and stand as a candidate in Clacton, eastern England on July 4.

YouGov said it had changed the methodology it was using to conduct its opinion polls, applying different modeling to turnout and the behavior of voters who answered “don’t know” to questions on their voting intention. That had the effect of lowering Labour’s poll rating by five points versus using the old methods, according to YouGov. It said under the old methods, the gap between the Tories and Reform would have narrowed even further — in fact, the parties would have been tied on 18%.

Reform’s rising number will cause concerns on the Tory campaign, where aides had already been fearful that Farage entering the fray would harm their strategy of trying to win back votes from the party. Wednesday’s poll adds substance to those fears, providing an early indication that Farage could boost Reform’s rating and make it even harder for Sunak’s Tories to overturn a Labour lead that’s consistently been above 20 points.

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