Reform UK is a right-wing fringe party which was founded in November 2019 as the Brexit Party. Then led by NIgel Farage, the group was primarily known for calling for a no-deal Brexit.
It was then renamed in January 2021 after the UK officially left the EU and was known for campaigning against Covid restrictions. It now focuses on the cost of living crisis.
Speaking to the BBC’s World At One on Monday, polling specialist Curtice said: “If the opinion polls prove to be correct, Reform is already proving to be something for a problem for the Conservatives.
“If you actually look at the polls that were done in December and examine how people who voted for the Conservatives in 2019, what they now say they will do, for every one voter who now says they will vote for Labour, there is another one voter who now says they will vote for Reform.
“In other words, the Conservatives are losing votes as heavily to Reform as they are to Labour.”
He continued: “That’s one of the problems that faces Rishi Sunak, as he tries to work out how to recover from the slough of eventual despond from which his party has been stuck for the last 15 months.”
Asked if Reform UK would be bolstered if Farage chose to return to the party, Curtice replied: “There’s one opinion poll not so long ago that suggested Reform might go up to 14% in the polls, they’re currently running on the average of about 9.”
While that wouldn’t necessarily translate into parliamentary seats, it “could add to the Conservatives’ problems,” Curtice said. “Reform are attracting these voters, and these voters were the foundation of the Conservatives’ success in 2019.”
The Conservatives won by a landslide in 2019, when Reform refused to put forward any candidates in former Tory strongholds. They ended up winning no seats at all.
However, in December the party announced they would be challenging the Tories in every constituency this time around.
The official date of the next general election has not yet been announced, but there’s widespread speculation the government will call voters to the ballot box in May.