Farage wins first seat as his upstart right wing Reform UK party gains ground

Nigel Farage, a driving force behind Britain’s Brexit movement and a confidant of former US President Donald Trump, has been elected to parliament for the first time, as his upstart right-wing Reform UK party looks to shake up the country’s politics.

Farage becomes a member of Britain’s parliament on his eighth attempt after winning with 46.2% of the vote in the heavily pro-Brexit Clacton, a seaside town on England’s southeastern coast where Reform UK had polled well.

With most of the votes now counted, results indicate Reform UK has won at least five seats in the House of Commons, a comparatively strong showing in Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system where smaller parties often struggle to translate their national support into parliamentary seats.

Farage’s Reform UK party attacked the Conservative Party on its failure to bring down rates of legal and illegal migration. That message appears to have won over a considerable number of socially conservative voters, with Reform UK candidates splitting the right-wing vote and contributing to the Conservatives’ losses.

Farage, an outspoken and polarizing figure, has long been known for using alarmist and confrontational language when discussing immigration. Since announcing his candidacy, Farage has warned supporters of an “invasion” of asylum seekers, and last month he sparked outrage from political opponents after saying the West “provoked” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The veteran Euroskeptic, played a leading role in bringing about Britain’s departure from the European Union, and has remained a divisive and disruptive figure in the country’s politics since.

Farage is perhaps best-known outside of the UK for his friendship with former US President Donald Trump, recently campaigning alongside him.

But he has never been elected to parliament, losing seven elections since 1994 before this victory. He won Clacton on a massive swing towards Reform UK, picking up 21,225 votes to the Conservatives’ 12,820.

Friday’s results now give Reform UK a small but significant base from which to oppose Labour leader and soon-to-be new UK Prime Minister Keir Starmer and a crucial parliamentary platform.

“It’s not just disappointment with the Conservative Party. There is a massive gap on the center right of British politics and my job is to fill it. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do,” Farage said after winning the seat.

He pledged to “challenge the general election properly in 2029,” and promised to turn his rhetoric toward the Labour Party as it enters government.

In many seats around the UK, Reform came second to Labour. Farage said the “Labour government will be in trouble very, very quickly and we will now be targeting Labour votes. We’re coming for Labour – be in no doubt about that.”

His presence during the election campaign upended the Conservative Party’s efforts to win back socially conservative, pro-Brexit voters.

His win comes at the same time Europe is broadly in the grip of what some call a right-wing populist surge.

Last month’s European elections saw a historic number of lawmakers from hard-right and far-right parties elected to the European Parliament. In snap French elections, far-right National Rally won the first round last week.

Speaking to CNN Thursday night, Politico deputy UK editor Rosa Prince said the result showed a “very widespread disaffection with the Conservative Party” and that Reform UK’s far-right policies “really chime with some parts of the electorate.”

“The big question is going to be whether the Conservative Party tries to draw him in to them and maybe even join forces, or whether they push him away,” Prince said. “Because what you could have is a total realignment of the right… I think Nigel Farage is certainly going to be causing trouble in the Houses of Parliament.”

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com