Tories increasing election efforts amid Reform UK poll bounce
Rishi Sunak heckled by passerby over his heating bill
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The Conservatives are gearing for the next general election amid concern about a rise in support for Reform UK, a news report has claimed. The Telegraph has claimed Conservative HQ is “significantly” increasing efforts to attract new donations and is set to embark on hiring campaign managers.
A survey by People Polling, published on Friday, showed that support for the rebreanded Brexit Party has risen to eight percent.
The Telegraph reported that while Reform UK is unlikely to take any seats from the Tories, it could syphon off votes in key marginals and help Labour pick up seats by splitting the right-wing vote.
Reform UK leader Richard Tice has said he has been in contact with several Conservative backbenchers about defecting at the next election.
Tory MPs have expressed fears that those who voted for them in 2019 will turn to Reform UK because the Conservatives have “failed to deliver” on immigration.
Rishi Sunak is set to hold a Cabinet awayday at Chequers this week to brainstorm strategies for the next election.
Pollsters will present the Prime Minister and his team with the latest surveys, which are expected to paint a grim picture, particularly across the Red Wall.
Peter Gibson, the MP for Darlington, said getting Channel migrant crossings under control would be key.
He told the Telegraph: “It is absolutely something that we’re going to be judged on and we do need to deliver on.
“We need to see the Home Office delivering decisions much more quickly, we need to see visible signs of repatriation taking place.
“We need to see a clear end to people crossing the Channel and securing the right to stay here, because if they have come here illegally they shouldn’t be staying here.”
He added: “MPs should campaign heavily on the benefits of levelling up and the Red Wall “could have no greater champion than the current Prime Minister.”
But some backbenchers have warned Mr Sunak he needs to take the threat from Reform UK more seriously, pointing out David Cameron’s underestimation of UKIP.
Lord Hayward, a leading Tory pollster, said the Prime Minister was right to prioritise immigration and tackling inflation if he is to stave off the threat from the populist party.
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He told the publication: “Clearly it will have an impact if they continue to poll even at these levels, partly because it will unnerve and distract the Conservative Party.
“It is not yet clear what share Reform would actually get if, particularly, the cross-Channel matter was progressed.”
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