Nigel Farage enters election race as he announces he will stand in Clacton

Rishi Sunak faces a fresh electoral threat after Nigel Farage announced he will stand as a Reform UK candidate at the General Election.

Mr Farage announced he will contest Clacton, Essex, after it was also confirmed he will take over as leader of the party.

Speaking at a press conference in London to confirm his U-turn, Mr Farage said: “Difficult though it is, I can’t let down those millions of people, I simply can’t do it, it’d be wrong.

“So I have decided I’ve changed my mind, it’s allowed you know, it’s not always a sign of weakness, it could potentially be a sign of strength.

“So I am going to stand in this election.”

Mr Farage said he will launch his candidacy on Tuesday.

His bid to win Clacton will be his eighth attempt to secure a parliamentary seat, with the other seven ending in defeat.

On May 23, Mr Farage said he would focus on getting Donald Trump re-elected as US president rather than stand as a Reform UK candidate in the July 4 contest.

But speaking on Monday, Mr Farage said he would be “back for the next five years” as he sought to put pressure on the Prime Minister.

He said he wanted to lead a “political revolt”, adding: “Yes, a revolt. A turning of our backs on the political status quo. It doesn’t work. Nothing in this country works any more.”

Mr Farage predicted the Tories will be in opposition after the General Election.

(PA Graphics)

He said: “They are split down the middle on policy, and frankly, right now they don’t stand for a damn thing.

“So our aim in this election is to get many, many millions of votes. And I’m talking far more votes than Ukip can got back in 2015.”

He continued: “When people start to realise in the red wall, with Reform second to Labour, when they start to realise that actually in those seats, it’s a Conservative vote that’s a vote for Labour, it’s a Conservative vote that is a wasted vote, then I think we might just surprise everybody.”

“We are appealing to Conservative voters, we are appealing to Labour voters.”

The Conservatives held Clacton in 2019 with a majority of 24,702 in an election in which the Brexit Party, led by Mr Farage, stood down candidates to help then Tory leader Boris Johnson.

Clacton was the scene of a Ukip by-election win in 2014, triggered by Douglas Carswell’s defection from the Tories.

Mr Carswell held the seat in 2015 before the Tories regained it in 2017.

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper said: “The Conservative Party has already become the mirror image of Nigel Farage’s Reform.

“Rishi Sunak’s constant pandering to Reform has horrified former lifelong Conservative voters in the centre ground.

“Sunak must show some backbone and rule out Farage ever joining the Conservative Party in future, including if he gets elected to be an MP.”