02/11/2020 08:01 GMT

Nigel Farage Accused Of 'Shameless Opportunism' Over Launch Of Anti-Lockdown Party

Reform UK will back an approach to the pandemic dismissed by the majority of the scientific community as “flawed”.

Nigel Farage is to launch a new anti-lockdown party that advocates the controversial and unproven “herd immunity” approach to tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

His Brexit Party has applied to the Electoral Commission to change its name to Reform UK, and will seek to attract voters unhappy with government restrictions put in place to help curb the spread of coronavirus.

Labour MP David Lammy accused Farage of being a “shameless opportunist” and said the former Ukip leader “seeks votes risking lives by opposing public health measures in a pandemic”.

The new party will back a policy of focused protection from the coronavirus for only the most vulnerable, and allow the rest of the population to develop herd immunity, Farage and party Chairman Richard Tice wrote in an opinion piece in The Telegraph on Sunday.

This is the approach outlined in so-called The Great Barrington Declaration which has been dismissed by the both the government and the majority of the scientific community as “flawed” and a “dangerous fallacy unsupported by the scientific evidence”.

Herd immunity against a disease has never been achieved without a vaccine.

Despite this, calls for the herd immunity and Focused Protection approach have continued and have even made their way to the upper echelons of the White House.

Labour’s Lammy has led criticism of the move, while others have pointed to how the party could potentially influence some Tory MPs.

The party contested 275 seats and took 2% of votes but did not succeed in electing an MP in the 2019 general election.

It will now broaden its agenda to include coronavirus and seek “reform” in other areas.

Party leader Nigel Farage said: “As promised, we continue to keep a very close eye on the government’s trade negotiations with the EU, to ensure a proper Brexit.

“Further reform in many other areas is also vital for our nation’s future.”

Chairman Richard Tice added: “The need for major reform in the UK is clearer now than ever.

“A new approach is essential, so that government works for the people, not for itself. The most urgent issue is a new coronavirus strategy, so that we learn to live with it, not hide in fear of it.”

Farage said in December that the party could become the “reform party” if the UK leaves the EU on January 31.

He revealed he had already registered the name as he added it would “have to campaign to change politics for good”.

On Saturday Boris Johnson ordered England back into a lockdown after the UK passed the milestone of 1 million Covid-19 cases and a second wave of infections threatened to overwhelm the health service.

The UK has the world’s fifth-largest official death toll, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.