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Sunak rejects offer of electoral deal with Reform party

Rishi Sunak announces date of the UK general election - Gettyimages

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Rishi Sunak has ruled out a deal with Nigel Farage after the Reform politician suggested they should “have a conversation” before the election.

Farage has held back from running as a candidate for the Reform party, which is led and funded by Richard Tice, but on Wednesday he extended an olive branch to Sunak in an interview with the Sun, telling him: “Give me something back. We might have a conversation.”

In the 2019 election, the Eurosceptic campaigner stood down some of his Brexit party candidates in marginal seats, handing a huge boost to Boris Johnson and the Conservatives.

However, Sunak rejected the idea on Wednesday, despite making a huge push to win over voters tempted by Reform with policies such as tax cuts for pensioners and the reintroduction of national service.

Asked whether he would speak to Farage about a deal, Sunak said: “There’s only going to be one of two people who will be prime minister: Keir Starmer or me. So the choice is a vote for anyone who isn’t Conservative is a vote for Keir Starmer in No 10.”

Pressed on whether that meant he was ruling out a deal with Farage, he said: “Yes.”

Sunak was speaking as he toured a military vehicle manufacturer in Honiton in Devon, where the Conservative candidate, Simon Jupp, is running in a new seat with the Liberal Democrats his likely rival. The prime minister was pressed by staff at SC Group on how the national service plans would help support young people, with one woman telling him she was reserving judgment until she saw more details.

Another employee asked what Sunak was doing to help pensioners who just want support with the cost of living, or people who are not seeking apprenticeships. The prime minister claimed the Conservatives would cut taxes in office.

Sunak has spent some of the last week in Lib Dem-facing seats in Buckinghamshire and the south-west, despite announcing policies designed to win back voters to Reform, who tend to be more of a threat in Labour-facing seats in the north and Midlands.

Reform is polling at about 12%, with most of its support coming from former Conservative voters who backed Johnson in 2019.

Any decision by Reform to back off from fielding candidates in marginal seats could be crucial to the Conservatives party defending constituencies.

In his Sun interview, Farage dismissed the idea that he wanted a peerage or honour as “rubbish”, but hinted he did want something else from the Conservatives.

He said: “I got rid of Mrs May with the Brexit party. I stood aside for Boris to help him win a massive majority.

“What are they going to do back for me? … I’m not asking them for anything other than – I’ve done them some huge favours over the years as a party. Give me something back. We might have a conversation.”

Farage has said that he mainly wants to focus on helping to get Donald Trump elected in the US, but will help Tice with his campaign.

This article was written by Rowena Mason Whitehall editor from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the DiveMarketplace by Industry Dive. Please direct all licensing questions to