Reform leader denies offering Lee Anderson money to defect to his party

Politics

Reform UK leader Richard Tice has denied reports that Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson was offered money to defect to his party. 

Mr Tice told Sky News that “no money or cash has been offered to any Tory MP whatsoever”.

He added: “This is about Lee Anderson using the threat of defecting to Reform to negotiate himself the deputy chairmanship of the Tory party because when the article first appeared back in February, coincidentally, he was just appointed in the same deputy chairmanship.”

The Sunday Times reported that Mr Anderson, an outspoken MP who has represented Ashfield since 2019, claimed last month to have been offered “a lot of money” to join the party.

Mr Tice was quick to strongly refute this on Sunday morning, calling the story “completely wrong”.

However, he said while no money has ever been offered to Tory politicians, he has had conversations “with ministers, former ministers (and) MPs who are absolutely furious with what the government is doing”.

He said they were angry “about the complete betrayal of mass immigration” and “the failure to control or stop the boats”.

Pic: Cover Images via AP Images
Image:
Lee Anderson. Pic: Cover Images via AP Images

“The reality is the Tory party is in the dying throes of what I think is the last majority Tory government that I should probably see in my lifetime and that’s a very good thing. We’re determined to punish them for their failures for breaking Britain.

“They need to be ousted and we’re going to play a very significant part in that.”

Reform UK was formed in 2018 out of the ashes of the Brexit Party with the support of ex-UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

It is seen as being to the right of the Conservative Party on the political spectrum and wants to see “net zero immigration” – meaning the number of people legally allowed to come to the UK should equal the number emigrating.

Earlier, cabinet minister Laura Trott said she was not worried about the Tories being outflanked by Reform at the next general election.

But Mr Tice said she was wrong to be blasé about its threat, with polling indicating a rise in support for his party.

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Laura Trott on migration figures

In a warning to the prime minister, he said: “We’re ready for an April or May election, we think that’s coming and we will stand in every single seat across England, Scotland, and Wales. Rishi we are already.”

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Reform UK has only taken small proportions of the vote in recent by-elections.

But that has not stopped some Conservatives fearing that Mr Tice’s party could exploit voter unhappiness over record levels of legal migration, and Channel crossings.

Mr Sunak is under pressure after new figures revealed net migration is at an all-time high – despite a Conservative 2019 manifesto pledge to bring numbers down.

The data places migration levels at three times higher than before Brexit.

It has posed a fresh challenge for the prime minister, who earlier this month faced a setback with his plans to stop illegal immigration after the Supreme Court ruled the flagship Rwanda deportation scheme is unlawful.

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