Reform thinks it will become the UK’s official opposition party – but it has none of the solutions, says Royston Smith

Reform UK's Nigel Farage and Richard Tice in pictures

Reform UK, led by Nigel Farage and Richard Tice, believe they can and will become the UK Government's official opposition, says Royston Smith

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Royston Smith

By Royston Smith


Published: 03/07/2024

- 13:28

Updated: 03/07/2024

- 13:29

Royston Smith is the former Conservative MP for Southampton, Itchen

Reform led by Nigel Farage and Richard Tice believe they can and will become the country’s official opposition. Perhaps they can but it is incredibly unlikely.

Firstly, their theory presupposes the Conservative Party, not the Government, will collapse.


The Conservative Party is the oldest and most successful political party in history.

While it finds itself in the doldrums and may not quickly recover to its former glory, it is not on the precipice.

History shows us the Conservative Party can, and will, reinvent itself. This is not the first time the party has found itself facing a challenge such as this.

In 1997 the party was trounced by Tony Blair finishing with just 165 seats. After 13 years in opposition, they were back in government. by 2010.

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Reform is not a political party in any real sense of the word, Royston Smith argues

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Secondly, Reform is not a political party in any real sense of the word. It has no organisation, no history, and no sense of what it actually is.

It is a protest movement and short of being angry about almost everything it has next to none of the solutions to the challenges the country faces.

Take small boat crossings for example. What are Reform’s solutions? Turn them back? Force the French to prevent crossings leaving the more than 180 km of French coastline? Rant about first countries of safety and asylum?

None of these is a solution and if they were, why on earth would the Government not have tried them?

A former editor of one of the daily tabloids allegedly said his job was less to inform his readers and rather to make them angry.

That is the strategy of the Reform Party.

First, it was the Referendum Party, then UKIP, the Brexit Party and then Reform.

Some of Reform’s members have been in all those parties on their journey to Reform and more troubling some have previously been members of the BNP, which we have recently discovered was the case for the Reform candidate in Basingstoke. Reform UK withdrew its support for the candidate after the connection was brought to its attention.

No one doubts there is a place for a protest movement.

If the mainstream political parties continue with their arrogant assumptions that they speak for more than a minority of voters, we will see the parties of the right gain in support.

If they can organise themselves and create a compelling narrative they may well make progress, just as they are doing across Europe and most recently in France. But Reform is not that.

Nigel Farage is considered by many to be more interested in self-promotion than leading a grown-up political party.

His ousting of the former Leader of Reform, Richard Tice, with zero consideration of what the members think about that demonstrates a level of narcissism and arrogance.

A one-man movement will not shift the dial, and on Thursday I believe we will see that.

Reform will scoop up the disillusioned and disaffected but there will not be the breakthrough claimed and expected by Reform members and supporters.

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No doubt Nigel Farage is polishing off his anti-establishment speech for Friday morning where he will claim the system is rigged against him and that’s why no more than a handful of Reform candidates will be successful.

It’s a Trumpian-type approach which won’t work in this country, at least not yet.

In short, there are plenty of people who are angry, but there are not enough people who are so angry they will just throw everything away without an alternative offer.

They are already angry, they don’t need more talking, they need and deserve solutions. The mainstream political parties in this country and around the world don’t know or understand their voters. In fact, they don’t much like them.

They have for too long treated them as a means to an end for their own political careers.

I think that will change eventually, but it will not be Reform on Thursday, that will benefit from the country’s disillusionment.

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