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24th May 2023

Reform UK eyes major role if PR gets ushered in at next election

Jack Peat

“Our ambition is that the Tories could never govern again without us” – Richard Tice

An anti-Tory pincer movement could see the Conservatives indefinitely swept into the electoral wilderness after the next election, it has been claimed.

With a minority Labour government on the cards, Sir Keir Starmer may be forced to offer a copper-bottomed guarantee of Proportional Representation (PR) as one of the principal terms of any coalition agreement with the Liberal Democrats.

Sir Ed Davey’s party has shown well in traditional ‘Blue Wall’ seats, and there is an expectation that come 2025 a critical mass of tactical voting could see them take up to 26 seats in key areas, including those of Dominic Raab and Jeremy Hunt.

Labour gains in the Red Wall and in Scotland, meanwhile, could pick off sizeable portions of the Conservative’s 2019 seats, while Reform UK could hammer the final nail into the coffin by telling Brexit supporters to stay well away from Rishi Sunak’s party.

Speaking on his GB News show, Nigel Farage said immigration figures due out this week could put paid to the relationship between the Tory party and Brexiteers.

It’s a stance echoed by Richard Tice, who has told JOE that the party will categorically “1,000 per cent” be running candidates in Tory-run seats, saying: “You cannot reward failure with more incumbency”.

But this could prove to be far worse than a one-off headache for the Conservative Party.

If Starmer is forced to commit to PR as a coalition condition, it could mean we are in the midst of the last Conservative majority government ever in the UK, and they may not even need a referendum to do it.

The 2011 Alternative Vote referendum dealt a serious hammer blow to PR, with only 32 per cent voting in favour of changing the present “first-past-the-post” system.

But according to Tice, those numbers could be turned on their head if it was run again.

“I’m very happy to have a referendum on PR, we would win it hands down,” he said. “I think we’d win it two-thirds to one-third”

“First past the post is outdated. It’s much more divisive. It’s completely discredited. PR is used across the whole of Europe, with the exception of Belarus, which is not great company for the UK quite frankly.

“But more importantly, PR on average leads to a 10 per cent increase in turnout relative to our current average turnout. That’s three million more people wanting to engage in the democratic process. And I think that’s really important.”

Reform UK modelling suggests that if there was PR in the forthcoming election, they could end up returning 60 to 90 MPs.

“So yeah, you’re talking a seismic change, which basically means that the Tories are in the death throes of their last-ever majority,” Tice says. “And what a glorious thing that is to reflect on.”

“Be under no illusion, our ambition is that the Tories could never govern again without us”, he adds. “And that basically means we have significant leverage.”

Watch this space.

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