Second Reform candidate quits to endorse Tories citing ‘racism and bigotry’ on damaging day for Farage

A second Reform candidate has dropped out of the election campaign and endorsed their local Conservative instead, claiming the “vast majority” of Reform candidates are “racist, misogynistic and bigoted”.

Georgie David, the Reform candidate for West Ham and Beckton, said she believes the party leadership is “not racist” but it has failed to “tackle this issue in any meaningful way”.

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Ms David’s move follows that of Liam Booth-Isherwood, who was standing in the seat of Erewash under the Reform banner but also dropped out of the race saying he had become “increasingly disillusioned” with the behaviour of the party, citing a “significant moral issue” within its ranks.

And it comes on a damaging day for Mr Farage’s right-wing challenger party, with Reform chairman Richard Tice clashing with the BBC in a car-crash interview. Mr Tice was challenged over Mr Farage’s insistence that the West provoked Russia’s war with Ukraine, with presenter Nick Robinson pointing out that he repeatedly refused to repeat the words of his party leader.

Mr Farage’s party has been embroiled by racism allegations since campaigners for Reform in Clacton were recorded by an undercover journalist from Channel 4 making racist comments, including about the Prime Minister, who is of Indian descent.

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

While Mr Farage has called the Channel 4 report a “set-up” – an assertion the broadcaster has strenuously denied – social media activity of candidates expressing racist, xenophobic or homophobic ideation has continued to raise questions for the party leadership on the views held by those within their ranks.

Reform has confirmed it has dropped support for candidates Leslie Lilley in Southend East and Rochford; Edward Oakenfull in Derbyshire Dales; and Robert Lomas in Barnsley North.

Ms David said she would be leaving Reform with “immediate effect” and endorsing the Conservative Party candidate in the seat, Holly Alice Ramsey.

She said: “I am in no doubt that the party and its senior leadership are not racist. However, as the vast majority of candidates are indeed racist, misogynistic, and bigoted, I do not wish to be directly associated with people who hold such views that are so vastly opposing to my own and what I stand for.

“I also have been significantly frustrated and dismayed by the failure of the Reform Party’s leadership to tackle this issue in any meaningful way, and their attempts to instead try to brush it under the carpet or cry foul play.

 (PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

“As such, I have now suspended my campaign with Reform, and I am endorsing the Conservative Party. I would encourage all of my fellow patriots to do the same.”

On Tuesday, the Times revealed Reform’s Orkney and Shetland candidate Robert Smith posted numerous insults about prominent women on social media, including calling European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde “head bitch of the globalists” and advocating for Nicola Sturgeon to be shot.

Reform chairman Mr Tice described such insults as “appalling”, but said “like anybody, we make some mistakes”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Obviously appalling, absolutely appalling. But I’m very clear, we’re a new political party. We’ve been growing fast. Of course, like anybody, we make some mistakes. The thing is, we admit them and we move on and we change and we learn from them. That’s what we’re doing.

“People are recognising that.”

Mr Farage has previously said “bad apples” will be removed from the party, which he said had been “let down” by a vetting company hired to assess candidates.

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

A Conservative Party spokesman said: “For the second time this week, we have seen a Reform candidate declare that a vote for Reform is a vote for Labour and £2,094 extra taxes for every working household.

“Just 130,000 voters currently considering voting for Reform or the Liberal Democrats could change the course of this election, and Ms David knows this.

“With less than 48 hours till the polls open, be in no doubt – only a vote for the Conservatives can stop the dangers of an unaccountable Labour supermajority.”

Reform candidates who have had their support removed by the party or who have elected not to run will still appear on ballot papers.