Lee Anderson becomes first ever Reform MP as Farage’s party predicted set to win 13 seats

Nigel Farage’s Reform UK is set to win more than a dozen Westminster seats in what would be a shock overperformance for the party, according to the exit poll.

After the party’s only current MP Lee Anderson held his Ashfield seat, becoming the first Reform win of the night, arch-Brexiteer Mr Farage remains on course to become the MP for Clacton in Essex.

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A series of polls in the run-up to the general election suggested Reform could win between two and seven seats, with disgruntled former Tory and Labour voters turning toward the party.

Lee Anderson comfortably won his seat with more than 17,000 votes (PA Wire)
Lee Anderson comfortably won his seat with more than 17,000 votes (PA Wire)

But the official exit poll is pointing toward a shock result, with Reform forecast to end up with 13 members of parliament.

And in the first seats to declare results, Reform pushed the Conservatives into third place behind the Labour Party.

In Blyth and Ashington, Reform won 10,857 votes, behind Labour on 20,030 votes and in front of the Conservatives on 6,121 votes. In Houghton and Sunderland South, shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson won with 18,837 votes, with Reform second on 11,668 - more than twice as many as the Conservatives.

Despite a positive early showing for Reform, their projected gains in several key seats including Barnsley North and Hartlepool failed to materialise, with Labour holding Hartlepool by around 8,000 votes.

And Robert Lomas, the party’s candidate in Barnsley North, failed to win, despite the exit poll forecasting he would. It suggests the party could fall short of the 13 seats predicted, something Labour sources have hinted at.

But several seats are still expected to turn to Reform including Great Yarmouth, while the party pulled off an unexpected win in Ashfield.

Mr Lomas was dropped by Mr Farage for reportedly saying black people should “get off their lazy arses” and stop acting “like savages”.

Nigel Farage’s Reform party looks set to win 13 seats at Westminster (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)
Nigel Farage’s Reform party looks set to win 13 seats at Westminster (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

Reform has been hit by a series of revelations about the online activities of a slew of its would-be MPs, from links to a British fascist leader to suggestions the UK should have remained neutral in the fight against the Nazis and admiration of Adolf Hitler’s “brilliant” ability to inspire action.

Meanwhile former Tory deputy chairman Mr Anderson’s Ashfield - which he won as a Conservative in 2019 - has returned him as the MP for Reform. Mr Anderson won with 17,062 votes, with Labour’s Rhea Keehn a distant second with 11,553.

David Bull, Reform’s deputy leader, said that his party was "about to change history".

Asked about Reform’s issues with candidates accused of racism, he told the BBC that every party had those kinds of issues.

"I think it’s in every party," he said, adding that the Reform party is new. "We had to literally sprint to get those candidates.

"Anyone who looks at the rise of Reform will see that what we’re doing is breaking political history. I’ve said this before, everyone said that in that Brexit result, you won’t do it, we changed history, we’re about to change history once again."

Asked which seats he thought Reform, which the exit poll projects to net 13 seats, could win, he listed Clacton, Great Yarmouth, Wellingborough and Boston and Skegness.

Mr Farage has tried and failed to get elected to Parliament seven times in the past, and if polls are correct it may be the eighth time lucky.

The exit poll by Ipsos UK for Sky News, the BBC and ITV News, said Reform UK has a likelihood of 99 per cent-plus that Mr Farage will win the seat in Clacton, Essex.