Nigel Farage promises to rid Reform of ‘bad apples’ during chaotic event

Nigel Farage gave a “100% promise” to rid Reform UK of “bad apples”, as multiple protesters disrupted an event designed to celebrate the party’s election gains.

The Reform UK leader walked on stage to lights and dance music, then faced a barrage of heckles from protesters in the audience as he tried to start a speech in central London to mark what the party described as a “political earthquake”.

He suggested one of the protesters had had a “bigger lunch than I have”, and that another was at risk of having a stroke before questioning if they were actors, a nod to a Reform canvasser filmed using a racial slur to describe now former prime minister Rishi Sunak.

Mr Farage accused a man who interrupted his speech of being “steaming” and shouted “boring!” nine times as a second heckler started speaking.

He told his party’s supporters: “This is good preparation for the House of Commons I suppose, isn’t it? It’s going to be very lively in there.”

When Mr Farage asked: “Any more for any more?” there was a long pause before a man shouted: “Actually yes.”

Mr Farage added: “We haven’t organised this very well, have we?”

All heckling members of the audience were escorted out of the Westminster venue.

The chaotic scenes took place at an event where Mr Farage, the new MP for Clacton, was joined by his fellow parliamentarians after Reform secured four seats in the Commons.

Lee Anderson defended Ashfield while party chairman Richard Tice secured Boston and Skegness and former Southampton FC chairman Rupert Lowe won Great Yarmouth, both at the expense of the Tories.

While Reform UK was formed in 2018, Mr Farage has sought to become an MP multiple times without success.

He was a member of the European Parliament for 20 years, during which time he campaigned fiercely for the UK to leave the EU.

Reform had an early boost in several constituencies where they took second place, pushing the Tories into third.

Mr Farage said: “We bite our nails”, as they await a recount in Basildon South & East Thurrock in the hope they would secure a fifth seat.

He said proportional representation in the voting system would have meant Reform “looking at nearly 100 seats”, adding the “outdated” first-past-the-post electoral system is “not fit for purpose”.

After claiming the General Election showed there was “absolutely no enthusiasm” for Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour, Mr Farage reiterated his party’s ambitions to act as the opposition to the new Government.

Mr Farage said: “We are going to be the opposition around the country.”

He added: “Above all what we’re going to do from today is we’re going to professionalise the party, we’re going to democratise the party, and those few bad apples that have crept in will be gone, will be long gone, and we will never have any of their type back in our organisation.

“You have a 100% promise on that.”

During the press conference he also said that vetting candidates is “easy” and that most racism in British politics is in the Labour Party.

Asked how he would vet Reform candidates properly going forward, including for racism, he said: “Very easy. You go back through their social media records, you obviously do police checks and things like that, no, it’s not difficult to do it and the message has to be clear and simple.

“We don’t want anyone like that involved with us. Indeed I mean the racism problem in the Labour Party was enormous, but to Keir Starmer’s credit actually he did quite a lot by getting rid of Jeremy Corbyn, who ironically has been re-elected.

“There’s an awful lot we can do. There is plenty of racism in British politics, it’s mostly in the Labour Party.”

Mr Farage said he was not going into Westminster to “behave terribly” but would challenge conventions after being elected as an MP for the first time.

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage during a press conference in Westminster, central London.
Reform UK leader Nigel Farage during a press conference in Westminster, central London. Picture date: Friday July 5, 2024. (Tejas Sandhu/PA)

Asked how he would democratise Reform UK and shake up Westminster from the inside as a “disruptor”, he said he did not know whether his party would have the “power to change the systems” and that being a “disruptor” can be considered negative but could be “a very positive context because it sparks a very, very different debate”.

“But we’re not going in to behave terribly or anything like that, but certainly going in to challenge conventions and certainly going in believing that the broad church that is the Conservative Party that currently has no religion, simply won’t be able to provide any sort of challenge at all.

“And we may be fewer in number but we’re absolutely united in what we believe in and what we stand for.”

He also said Reform UK’s constitution would “get put fully to the conference”.

Mr Anderson claimed he would be looking at Sir Keir Starmer’s Government in the Commons and thinking “what has our country come to”.

The Reform UK MP said the UK’s Prime Minister and his “motley crew absolutely scares me to death, I’m going to be sat on the green benches next week looking at them and thinking what has our country come to”.

Mr Farage said Reform UK’s focus will be on going “after Labour votes”.

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage arrives for a press conference in Westminster, central London.
Reform UK leader Nigel Farage arrives for a press conference in Westminster, central London. Picture date: Friday July 5, 2024. (Tejas Sandhu/PA)

He said: “Old Labour was very, very patriotic. It believed in the country. It believed in its people. New Labour far less so.

“And the journey that Lee Anderson has been on is a journey that at least a couple of million people have been on, and it’ll be many, many more by the time we’re finished, because no doubt, our priority now is to go after Labour votes. That is what we’re going to be doing.

Mr Farage has said he is “launching criminal legal action” against Colin Bloom of Vetting.Com as he vowed to “professionalise” Reform UK.

Facing a question about the racism row engulfing the party, its leader again blamed the firm it contracted to vet candidates.

He also said: “I made it clear that Ukip would be a non-racist, non-sectarian party, and in the end it was.

“I will jolly well make sure, starting today, that we do not want people with desperately unpleasant views. We will not tolerate people with these views. They will be gone.

“And we’ll have the funding after this, we’ll have the support coming in to be able to absolutely professionalise the party. This will never happen again.”

He laughed and said “stitch-up merchants” as he was asked a question by Channel 4 News.

The Reform UK leader has launched a series of attacks against the broadcaster after it reported that a canvasser for his party had used racist language.

Channel 4 then asked him about the leadership and direction of the party, to which he responded that he would stay at the helm but indicated that by the 2029 election “somebody younger and better-looking” will have come along.

As the event ended, the audience of about 100 people gave a round of applause, Mr Farage, Mr Tice, Mr Anderson and Mr Lowe then posed for photos before leaving.

Afterwards, Mr Anderson called hecklers who interrupted the event “professional nuisances”.

He added: “I think they need to get a job.”