Reform UK: Genuine political challenger or another write-off?

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Label volunteer Leah Langley explores the emergence of the ‘Reform UK’ party, founded from the remnants of the ‘Brexit Party’ which has little relevance in a post-Brexit world

Reform UK was originally founded as The Brexit Party by Nigel Farage and Catherine Blaiklock, in November 2018, with a sole focus on Euroscepticism and stated purpose of achieving ‘Brexit’. The party’s priority was to have Britain withdraw from the European Union and transfer to the trading rules of the World Trade Organisation if a free trade agreement could not be settled. Much of the support for the party came from those who were left frustrated by the overdue implementation of Brexit. In 2016, it had been decided that Britain should leave the European Union without remaining a part of their Single Market or Customs Union, but this was prolonged for several years leaving many members of the public angry.

 

In May 2019, the constitution of the party was published and it stated that the party sought to “promote and encourage those who aspire to improve their personal situation and those who seek to be self-reliant, whilst providing protection for those genuinely in need; favour the ability of individuals to make decision in respect of themselves; seek to diminish the role of the State, and lower the burden of taxation on individuals and businesses.” On June 4th, 2019, the party’s first policy (with no relation to Brexit) was publicised with a proposal to have British Steel become a partly worker-owned company. Other issues that the party is set on highlighting are the removal of Britain’s foreign aid budget, introducing free Wi-Fi on all British public transport, and perhaps most notably, the party has claimed that it will remove all interest that is paid on student tuition fees. Along with this claim, they have also stated that graduates should be reimbursed for historic interest payments they have made on their loans.

 

Following Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, on January 31st, 2020, proposals were made to rebrand the part as Reform UK. In October 2020, Farage announced that he had made an application to the Electoral Commission to have the party re-registered and it was officially renamed Reform UK on January 6th, 2020. The party’s support for what is known as the Great Barrington Declaration is one of its most interesting positions at the moment – the declaration advocates for a different approach to the current Covid-19 pandemic that would see “focused protection” of those that are the highest risk, and it also aims to reduce the societal harm of lockdowns.  The party has also promised that it will work to restructure the government’s sovereignty with proposed changes to the House of Commons and the BBC.

 

The success of Reform UK is still a question that has no definite answers or predictions as people are unsure quite where the party sits. It may have a new name, but it still has its old origins and its new ideas aren’t all that different to what we have been told before. Nigel Farage has also recently resigned as he stated that he had achieved what he had intended with the Brexit deal that the Conservatives had passed in Parliament. Upon his resignation he said that he planned to continue participating in political debate, although this would not be done within a party. The party will now be led by Richard Tice, former chair of the Brexit Party and Farage will take the role of honorary president. The eyes of the political world will now be on the party to see what happens, and if anything changes, in the coming months under new leadership.

 

Header designed by Christos Alamaniotis – Head of Design

Article edited by Connor Wade – Politics Editor

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Label Political Editor 2020-22

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