Reform UK overtakes PM Sunak's Conservatives in opinion poll

  • World
  • Friday, 14 Jun 2024

Britain's Reform UK Party Leader Nigel Farage speaks during a Reform UK general election campaign event, in London, Britain, June 10, 2024. REUTERS/Kevin Coombs/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) -Nigel Farage's Reform UK Party overtook Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's Conservatives in an opinion poll for the first time on Thursday ahead of Britain's election on July 4. The poll by YouGov for the Times newspaper put Reform UK on 19%, up from 17% previously, and the Conservative Party unchanged on 18%. The opposition Labour Party topped the poll with 37%. The survey of 2,211 people was carried out June 12-13, after Sunak pledged to cut 17 billion pounds ($21.70 billion) of taxes for working people in his party's election manifesto. Reform's poll rating has risen since Farage, best known for his successful campaign for Britain to leave the European Union, said he was returning to frontline politics, taking over leadership of the party and standing for election to parliament. "This is the inflection point. The only wasted vote now is a Conservative vote, we are the challengers to Labour and we are on our way," Farage said in a video posted on X. A small right-wing party, founded in 2018 as the Brexit Party, Reform backs populist causes such as tougher immigration laws. Asked if the trend would stick, a Conservative lawmaker who declined to be named said: "Yes. I think people are fed up with the Tories (Conservatives), but not with Conservatism. So they are moving to another Conservative party." Sunak's campaign has also been hit by sharp criticism after he left D-Day memorial events in France earlier than other world leaders. Other opinion polls show the Conservatives much further ahead of Reform. Despite overtaking Sunak's Conservatives in Thursday's poll - which reflected the share of a nationwide vote - Reform is not forecast to win many, if any, parliamentary seats. Its support is spread comparatively evenly across the country, whereas backing for the larger and more established parties is more concentrated by geographic areas. Britain has a first-past-the-post electoral system, meaning Reform could pick up millions of votes across the country without winning any of parliament's 650 individual constituencies.

($1 = 0.7835 pounds)

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan and William James; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Daniel Wallis)

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