Tory MP claims to be ‘more Reform than Reform’ as she launches blistering attack on Rishi Sunak

A Tory MP has launched a personal attack on Rishi Sunak’s as she claimed she was “more Reform” than most of Reform UK’s parliamentary candidates.

Great Grimsby MP Lia Nici said the prime minister lacked the appeal of Boris Johnson, who helped her win as a Tory in the red wall seat in 2019 for the first time in 100 years.

And she praised the policy platform of Reform, Nigel Farage’s right-wing challenger party, saying it has “a lot of ideas that people locally do like”.

It comes as Mr Sunak comes under increasing pressure with a rebel plot reported to replace him with Penny Moundaunt.

“I’m probably more Reform than most Reform candidates to be honest,” Ms Nici told Sky’s Politics Hub with Sophy Ridge.

She added: “I’m constantly called a rebel but that’s because most people in Grimsby think in a similar way to me. So I hold our Government to account on that.

“Reform have got a lot of ideas that people locally do like, but are they are a fully-formed political party, no they’re not.”

Ms Nici also praised former Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson, saying he is a “fantastic colleague”, but that he will not get the same “kind of support” in Reform as under the Tories.

“If people vote for Reform this time around what we’ll get is a Labour government so you need to be careful what you wish for,” Ms Nici said.

But Reform leader Richard Tice, who took over from Mr Farage, extended an olive branch to Ms Nici, inviting her to “give me a ring”.

He told The Telegraph: “Lia is quite right that our Reform policies are very popular and it sounds like she should give me a ring. Lee has my number.”

Richard Tice invited Lia Nici to speak to him on Reform UK after she expressed a degree of support for the party (AFP via Getty Images)
Richard Tice invited Lia Nici to speak to him on Reform UK after she expressed a degree of support for the party (AFP via Getty Images)

Reform’s policy platform includes promises to pull the country out of the European Court of Human Rights and freeze “non-essential migration”.

Ms Nici’s praise for the party comes as it piles major pressure on Mr Sunak, winning over voters angered by the high tax burden and soaring legal and illegal migration.

It is currently the third largest party in the polls, and threatens to deprive the Tories of majorities in tens of seats at the general election.

She is the second Tory MP to express a degree of support for Reform in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, Nick Fletcher suggested voters back Nigel Farage’s Reform party at the next election so Mr Anderson is returned to Westminster.

The MP for Don Valley, said the former Tory deputy chairman, who defected after being suspended earlier this year, was his seat’s “greatest champion”.

He added that he hoped locals “appreciate what he has done for his hometown and the country at the next election” adding “we both need to be back in Westminster”.

Mr Sunak and the Tory whips did not discipline Mr Fletcher over the remarks.

A staunch supporter of the former prime minister, Ms Nici also argued Mr Johnson “put Grimsby on the political map” and was more charming than Mr Sunak.

“The thing is people do want to have charismatic leaders and the difficulty is that for many, many decades we haven’t had somebody as charismatic as Boris,” she said.

“And as good a politician, as good a person as Rishi Sunak is, I don’t believe he does have that charisma that comes across on TV.”