A vote for the Tories is a waste, says Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage has said voting for the Conservative Party is a “wasted vote” as he set out Reform UK’s election campaign agenda in Dover.

The Reform honorary president, who has declined to stand as an MP, launched the party’s campaign at a yacht club on the Kent seafront, which he described as the “frontline of the great national debate on immigration”.

Speaking to press and supporters, Mr Farage said the Tories have “wrecked it for themselves” and rejected the Conservative argument that a vote for Reform is a vote for Labour.

The former Ukip leader said: “This election is a foregone conclusion. Labour are going to win and they’re going to win quite big.

“And therefore you could argue, actually, that a vote for the Conservative Party is a wasted vote.

“And given that, you know, Labour are going to win, why not vote for something that you actually believe in?”

He said he changed the party’s name from Brexit to Reform because the party is not after a “quick hit” but seeking to “build a base” and “launch a serious assault” in the next election of 2028 or 2029.

Speaking to PA news agency he ruled out electoral pacts or coalition agreements, adding: “This is now a six year plan. This is our first big election. It’s the place to try to spearhead into Parliament. We’re building a campaign for the 2029 general election.

“We are here to be the voice of opposition.”

Mr Farage, who has unsuccessfully stood as a Ukip candidate at five general elections and two by-elections, described illegal immigration to the UK as a “national security emergency”.

He said: “I think what we ought to be doing with this situation here is declaring a national security emergency and this is an emergency.

General Election campaign 2024
Nigel Farage announces Howard Cox as the Reform UK candidate for Dover (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“I talked over the course of the weekend to Trevor Phillips about the small but worryingly growing number of young men, predominantly young men in this country, adopting radical views, views that aren’t just un-British, but views that frankly are extremely anti-British.”

After his interview on Sky’s Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips, Mr Farage was accused of “incendiary rhetoric”.

Responding to a question on criticisms he has received, he said in Dover: “Look, I will always get attacked because I’ve always been prepared to put the head up and talk about things that other people would rather brush under the carpet and say it’s just too awkward in polite society.”

On integration he said he was proud of the UK having the “best levels” of integration in Europe in the post-war period, but added about net migration: “The thing is out of control.”

Mr Farage took pictures with supporters with a pint of beer in hand following the campaign speech.

The launch, also announcing Howard Cox as Reform’s Dover candidate, comes as Dover MP Natalie Elphicke defected from the Conservatives to Labour and will not be standing at the next election.

Dover and Deal Conservative Association chairman Keith Single has said “don’t write us off” as the process of selecting a new Tory candidate takes place.

Labour has said its existing candidate, Mike Tapp, will stand in Dover.

Ms Elphicke increased the Conservatives’ majority to 12,278 in the 2019 election.

Speaking in Barnsley on Tuesday evening, Reform UK leader Richard Tice told supporters that the Prime Minister called the election last week because he was “petrified” about Reform’s poll ratings and that “Nigel (Farage) was going to get stuck in, which he is”.

General Election campaign 2024
Nigel Farage on the campaign trail (Gareth Fuller/PA)

He said: “They (the Conservatives) have completely and utterly broken Britain. That’s the reality and it’s a disgrace.

“But, if you think that Starmergeddon and the Labour Party is going to turn things around, I’ve got some sand to sell you.”

Mr Tice said: “Does anyone seriously think that Rishi is going to stop the boats? He’s promised us and promised and nothing is happening. And the boats keep coming.”

He said: “The only thing that will stop the boats is a variant of what the Australians did 11 years ago.

“You’ve got to pick up and take back to France.”

The Reform leader said that, as the French are failing in their international obligation to do this, this legally entitles the British to return boats to France.

He said: “The moment you do that, you cut the business model and this thing stops within two or three weeks.”

Mr Tice told his supporters that, despite Reform spending just a fraction of what the Conservatives and Labour will on the election, “we’ve a serious prospect of getting as many votes as the Tories”.