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A Slice of Tice - Reform UK Launch Their Election Campaign

With the general election just six weeks away, all eyes are on… not Reform really. But, convinced they are “the real opposition” to Labour, Richard Tice’s Reform UK launched their general election plan yesterday morning. 

In a star-studded (well… as star-studded as Reform gets) press conference, held in a small, and only half-full Whitehall lecture theatre, leader Richard Tice, deputy-leader Ben Habib, and professional loudmouth Ann Widdecombe all took to the podium to outline why Reform are the party the UK needs. Thankfully, some press officer with an ounce of common sense decided it was wise to keep Lee Anderson in his seat; after all, who’s got half an hour to hear about how much he wants his country back?? Like come on Lee, we’ve got a general election on the way. And if I had to sum it up in three words – dramatic car crash.

Deputy leader and former MEP Ben Habib, took to the stage first, stood behind a lectern embossed with the phrase “Ready To Save Britain”, where he boldly proclaimed “we did not get Brexit done”, much to the disappointment of former PM Boris Johnson. Although parties needn’t worry about Mr Johnson’s vote, as it’s unlikely he’ll remember to bring any ID. He emphasised that the current government are “an absolutely hopeless lot” for failing to secure a good Brexit deal for Northern Ireland – which was bold statement to make, considering Reform forgot to register in Northern Ireland. He also confirmed he’d be standing in Wellingborough again at the next general election, presumably optimistic he can beat the 13% vote share he achieved just three months. 

Tory parliamentarian turned Reform loudmouth, Ann Widdecombe was next up at the lectern. Taking a hardline stance on border security, she made it clear that “uncontrolled immigration is at the root of so much that is going wrong”, an issue she claims to be well versed in after her stint as immigration minister in the olden days. Presumably also meaning it was her that was responsible for the following 100% factually accurate piece of data visualisation – after all, she was the only Reform member around to monitor immigration in 1066. 

And then it was time for them to wheel out the big-guns, the main-man himself, Reform leader, owner and main funder – Richard Tice. Tice, who clearly looks at different polling data to the rest of the country, asserted his belief that “[Sunak’s] bottled it, he’s cut and run… because Reform UK are going up and up in the polls… with our common-sense policies”. He wants us to vote Reform because “Whether you vote Tory or whether you vote Labour, you’ll get the same form of socialism”, which gained a raised eyebrow from many of the journalists in the room, who are yet to see any form of socialism from Labour under Starmer. 

On a real note, he outlined how things can’t continue as they are, with housing, services and healthcare backlogs and underfunding, and he even went as far as to tell us that Reform are “the only party with a clear bold plan for healthcare” (he didn’t tell us what that plan is, but it’s the thought that counts, I guess). And he ended things there, reminding us to vote Reform, flashing his teeth for the cameras once again, before dashing out with his Anderson/Widdecombe entourage for media 1-to-1s – great news for TalkTV and GBNews, not so much for the rest of us, eagerly waiting to ask for even a scrap of actual campaign information. 

The big headlines from the event are that Reform will stand in 630 seats at the upcoming election, “no ifs, no buts”. This means they’re standing everywhere except for Northern Ireland - an odd choice, considering that Habib himself said that forgetting about Northern Ireland makes you “an absolutely hopeless lot”. And Tice, desperate to change things up a bit, or maybe just for a safe seat, will stand in… (drum roll) Boston and Skegness. According to YouGov, the Boston and Skegness constituency polled Reform 3rd, at 25%, on their most recent MRP just two months ago.

So, should Sunak be worried about Reform? Habib thinks so! In fact, he believes that “Richard Tice is the leader this country needs”. Although I suspect he could be a little bit biased. 

Image: Matthew Ingham

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