Nigel Farage's Right-Wing Populist Party Overtakes Conservatives In More Bad News For UK Prime Minister

Nigel Farage’s right-wing populist Reform UK party has overtaken the governing Conservative Party in the run-up to the July 4 general election, according to a new poll released on Thursday in more bad news for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

The YouGov survey conducted from June 12 to 13 on a sample of 2,211 adults projects that the Labour Party will win 37% of the vote, followed by Reform UK at 19%, which is one point ahead of the Conservatives.

Farage, an ally of former President Donald Trump, had previously said he didn’t intend to run in next month’s election so he could focus on the U.S. presidential race. But he changed his mind in early June.

This marks the first poll in which Farage’s party has finished ahead of the Tories, who have been in power for 14 years. The polling company, however, noted that the result is within the margin of error.

“Given these considerations, it may be more fair to say at this point in time – given the results of the last few polls – that Reform UK are neck and neck with the Conservatives,” YouGov said.

The Conservatives have struggled in the election campaign after Sunak made several blunders, including the highly controversial decision to leave D-Day celebrations in Normandy early to return to the U.K. to sit down for an ITV interview. Sunak, who, according to YouGov has a net approval rating of -51, apologized for the mistake.

Sunak said Friday that he will continue fighting to earn the support of the British public for the remainder of the campaign. He warned that if the poll results hold on Election Day, it would be the equivalent of handing the Labour Party a “blank check.”

“Ultimately a vote for anyone who is not a Conservative candidate makes it more likely that [Labour Party leader] Keir Starmer is in No. 10,” Sunak told reporters, referring to the prime minister’s offices at 10 Downing Street.

Polling expert John Curtice said that while this is just one poll, it lays out a major area of concern for Sunak.

In the last U.K. general election, the Brexit Party, the predecessor of Reform UK, did not put up candidates in constituencies held by the Conservatives.

“This time, Reform are standing virtually everywhere in England, Scotland and Wales,” Curtice wrote for the BBC. “This means Reform is likely to take most votes away from the Conservatives in seats that Rishi Sunak’s party is trying to defend.”

The Conservatives, led by Boris Johnson at the time, won 43.6% of the vote in the 2019 general election. Johnson was forced to resign in July 2022 due to public anger for flouting COVID rules and allegations of misconduct.

Despite the momentum Farage’s party is showing, the U.K.’s first-past-the-post system means Reform UK could end up not winning any seats.

Still, the poll has emboldened Farage, who told reporters in a Friday press conference the July 4 race is the party’s “first step towards building for 2029.”

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