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UK reform becomes real opposition to Labour, says Richard Tice

video subtitles, Richard Tice: Conservatives are falling

UK Reform leader Richard Tice has said his party is becoming “the real opposition” to Labor after coming a solid third in the Blackpool South by-election.

The party, successor to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, was just 117 votes behind the Conservatives.

Tice told the BBC it was “clear that the Conservatives are falling.”

Conservative chairman Richard Holden said it had been a “disappointing night” for the party.

“But that is what is expected of the parties in the middle of the government,” he added.

The UK reform also pushed the Conservatives into third place with 16 councilor seats in Sunderland.

Professor Sir John Curtice, an election expert, said the party’s result in Sunderland was “quite substantial”.

However, he added that his share of the vote was lower than that achieved by UKIP, a reform precursor, in 2015-6.

Reform UK stood in a relatively small number of areas in these local elections, fielding 326 candidates out of a possible 2,660. He has won a seat in Havant, Hampshire.

Celebrating his party’s performance in the Blackpool South parliamentary by-election, Tice said he was delighted to have won 17% of the vote.

“What is quickly becoming clear… as more people hear about reform is that we are becoming the real opposition to the Labor Party in the North, in the Midlands and in Wales,” Mr Tice said.

“We’re on the way up and it’s pretty clear the Conservatives are on the way down.”

video subtitles, Starmer: Blackpool has sent a message to Rishi Sunak

When asked about the possibility of Reform UK winning a parliamentary seat at the next election, Tice said the UK had “the wrong electoral system”.

“It’s clearly unfair if you get 17% of the vote across the country but because of our system you can’t get any seats – it shows that democracy is not working,” he said.

“That’s why most Western nations have some form of proportional representation.

“The irony is that the Conservatives are collapsing so quickly that very soon they will be begging for proportional representation to stop a total annihilation of the Conservative party.”

Tice was also asked whether Nigel Farage, who previously led the party, would return to the frontline of politics for the general election due this year.

“The more help Nigel feels able to give, the better. He has a big decision to make… and of course the clock is ticking,” he said.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Anderson rejected the idea that his new party was helping Labour, saying that in many places the combined total of Reformists and Conservatives would not defeat Labour.

“When the general elections come, this party will win seats; a vote for reform is a vote for reform,” he said.