Rival candidates debate impact of Reform UK

MP candidates Shabana Mahmood, Dame Harriet Baldwin and Manuela Perteghella
Shabana Mahmood, Dame Harriett Baldwin and Manuela Perteghella appeared on Sunday's Politics Midlands programme [BBC]

Candidates from rival parties have debated the impact of Reform UK in the Midlands as the party held its biggest pre-election event in the region.

Nigel Farage hosted a rally in Birmingham on Sunday, days after a secret recording of a Reform activist calling the prime minister a racist slur was published.

The Reform UK leader said the report on Channel 4 News was a "put-up job".

But speaking on the BBC's Politics Midlands, other parties condemned some of the rhetoric of Reform activists, and Conservatives said support for the party could lead to a greater Labour majority.

Liberal Democrat candidate in Stratford-on-Avon, Manuela Perteghella, told the programme her party shared "no values" with Reform UK, while Birmingham Ladywood Labour candidate Shabana Mahmood said all political parties should be "united" on calling out the "vile" and "hideous" remarks.

Conservative candidate in West Worcestershire, Dame Harriett Baldwin, said while she endorsed Labour "condemning racism".

But she said voters should not believe Labour would tackle immigration, which she claimed would not be high on the party's agenda.

Dame Harriet Baldwin on Politics Midlands
Dame Harriet Baldwin said Reform voters would give Labour a "super majority" [BBC]

Peter Durnell, regional manager for West Midlands Reform UK, told the programme the party expected 5,000 people at the event, paying £5 for entry.

He told the BBC: "Birmingham is really on the map and is buzzing for Reform UK."

Mr Durnell predicted the party would get two or three seats, but hoped for "several more."

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Dame Harriett told the programme that a vote for Reform could mean giving Labour a "super-majority" in the new House of Commons.

"There is no question that a vote for Reform means more Labour MPs and exactly the opposite on what a lot of Reform voters want.

"Voting for Reform could make sure that Keir Starmer has 100 additional MPs and a super-majority which would effectively be a blank cheque to Labour who have not spelt out what they're planning to do in their manifesto", she said.

Ms Mahmood called the comment "insecure" and said voters wanted a change from a Tory government.

Shabana Mahmood on Politics Midlands
Shabana Mahmood argued that Reform UK are using "dog whistle politics" [BBC]

She said: "All political parties can be united on this - there should be no place in our country and politics for racism and we should all take a strong position in calling that out.

"This isn't a sensible debate about immigration which a lot of decent people in our country can and want to have - it's actually dog-whistle politics.

"We should actually be willing to call out that there are some lines you do not cross - that is not the country we want to be."

Ms Perteghella said the Liberal Democrats shared no values with Reform.

She said: "These people have no place in office - I just want to make that clear.

"The [Liberal Democrat] party share no values with Reform and we are focused on fixing the economy, fixing the NHS and social care and cleaning up our rivers."

Manuela Perteghella  on Politics Midlands
Manuela Perteghella said the Liberal Democrats were focusing on "fixing" the NHS [BBC]

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