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Nigel Farage launches campaign for UK general election

Nigel Farage, leader of Reform UK, has launched his latest campaign to become an MP in next month’s general election, vowing to lead “a people’s army against the establishment”.

Mr Farage, 60, shook up the election campaign by announcing yesterday that he would stand in Clacton, southeast England – a pro-Brexit constituency that his former UK Independence Party (UKIP) once held.

He also revealed his return as Reform’s leader.

The Brexit figurehead had insisted he would not run and his major U-turn now threatens to split the right-wing vote and further imperil the beleaguered ruling Conservatives.

The former MEP, who has failed on seven previous attempts to be elected to the UK parliament, has made curbing immigration the cornerstone of his campaign.

A longtime vocal supporter of former US president Donald Trump, Mr Farage kicked off campaigning in Clacton – a seaside town which overwhelmingly backed Brexit in the 2016 referendum – by drumming home his populist message.

“What we need is to reactivate a people’s army against the establishment,” he said at the campaign launch.

Criticising the ruling Tories for allowing immigration to the UK to rise dramatically, Mr Farage said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives “deserve to pay a price” for their record during 14 years in power.

In a series of recent interviews, Mr Farage has said he is eyeing a post-election “takeover” of the Tory party.

Mr Farage co-founded UKIP in the early 1990s, winning election to the European Parliament later in the decade. He remained an MEP until 2020.

His eurosceptic party pulled off an unprecedented win in the 2014 European Parliament elections, and won its first UK House of Commons seat that year in a by-election after Clacton’s then-Conservative MP defected.

UKIP retained the seat in the 2015 general election, before it returned to the Tories two years later.

Betting sites have made Mr Farage the favourite to seize the seat, despite the Conservatives winning a majority of nearly 25,000 at the last election in 2019.

But polling expert John Curtice warned it was “difficult to judge” if the Reform leader would prevail.

“Even in these straitened times for the Conservatives, it looks like a very safe seat,” he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

Polls suggest the main Labour opposition is on course to win on 4 July in a landslide.

Mr Farage has said he is aiming to get more votes than the Tories, who earned an 80-seat majority in 2019 but are widely seen as having failed to deliver on a host of policy areas.

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