Election latest: Reform candidate disowns party amid racism row - and backs Tories (2024)

Key points
  • Reform candidate disowns party amid racism row - and backs Tories|Which comes after party dropped three candidates
  • Farage says he 'doesn't want to know' racists|Andfinally rules out joining Tory party after election
  • Sunak insists he can still win election
  • Has Labour chosen wealthy pensioners over children in poverty?
  • 'Extremely troubling' footage emerges of Tory association students singing Nazi song|But party says group 'not affiliated' to them
  • Rob Powell:With more coverage comes more scrutiny
  • Politics at Jack and Sam's:The last weekend
  • Live reporting by Ben Blochand (earlier)Faith Ridler
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  • Campaign Heritage:Memorable moments from elections gone by
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  • Read more:Who is standing down?|Key seats to watch|What counts as voter ID?|Check if your constituency is changing|Guide to election lingo
  • How to watch election on Sky News

16:12:39

Reform candidate disowns party amid racism row - and backs Tories

A Reform UK candidate has disowned the party and is backing the Conservatives amid a row over racism.

Liam Booth-Isherwood, who was standing in Erewash, said he is suspending his campaign and backing the Tory candidate Maggie Throup to win the seat.

The deadline for candidate nominations has passed, so he will still appear on the ballot as the Reform candidate.

He said in a statement: "Over the past few weeks, I have been increasingly disillusioned with the behaviour and conduct of Reform.

"Whilst I have campaigned alongside many decent, honest and hard-working people during the course of the general election campaign in Erewash, the reports of widespread racism and sexism in Reform have made clear that there is a significant moral issue within certain elements of the party, and the failure of the party's leadership to not only take this matter seriously, but also to fundamentally address it, has made clear to me that this is no longer a party I want to be associated with.

"As a result, I am announcing my endorsem*nt of the Conservative Party candidate, Maggie Throup, for Erewash. Only she can stopLabour."

Reform UK has been approached for comment.

Here is the full list of candidates standing in Erewash:

  • James Martin Archer, Liberal Democrats
  • Liam Dane Booth-Isherwood (was Reform UK, but has quit party to back Tories)
  • John William Kirby, Independent
  • Brent Poland, Green Party
  • Adam Thompson, Labour Party
  • Maggie Throup, Conservative Party

18:00:43

Sunak pledges 'steadfast' support for Israel - and will combat antisemitism 'sickness'

Rishi Sunak spoke this afternoon at theMachzike Hadath Synagogue in Golders Green, north London, and told the congregation that a government under his leadership will stand behind Israel.

Recalling the "horror" of the 7 October Hamas attack on Israel, he said he will "never equivocate on who was to blame for this ugly, abhorrent act of terror".

"I will be steadfast in standing by Israel in its time of need, and I will not try and bully Israel into making concessions that are not in its interests. Israel deserves to live in peace and security."

He called for Hamas to release the Israeli hostages still being held in Gaza.

The PM also referenced Iran's attack on Israel in April, saying: "I am proud that I'm the first British prime minister to have ordered our military into action to protect the state of Israel, and I'm even prouder of the role our military played in ensuring Iran's missile and drone barrage did not succeed."

Mr Sunak also criticised the "shocking increase in antisemitism" in the UK since the 7 October attacks, and hit out at those who "blame Israel for defending itself, for doing what any state would do in response to such a horrific, barbaric attack".

"The whole fabric of our nation is under threat. This antisemitism is a sickness, and I am determined to confront it."

He pledged to "lead a long term effort" to do so, and "change our culture so we tackle the root causes of this hatred".

The PM said, if re-elected, he would "tell the police to take a zero tolerance approach to antisemitic hate crimes".

Finally, Mr Sunak hit out at Labour's plan to add VAT to private school fees, saying: "It is particularly wrong to put VAT on the fees of Jewish schools when there is not sufficient alternative provision in the state sector.

"Your values, education, hard work and enterprise are very British values, and they are also Conservative values."

17:30:01

If Starmer wins the election, he will be unprepared - just like every other PM

By Adam Boulton, Sky News commentator

Becoming prime minister is a shock. Not so much the moment of being elected - any sensible democratic politician knows that opinion polls can be wrong and gets ready for all eventualities.

No incoming prime minister can ever be fully prepared for the demands of the job, placed on them from day one, when - among many other demands - they are taken aside to be briefed about their role in a nuclear war.

The process is particularly challenging in the UK because the change is so quick. There are no weeks of transition, as in most other countries. Nobody else does it like us.

As Tony Blair remarked to Alastair Campbell: "Imagine preparing for a new job by working flat out travelling the country for six weeks and then go a few nights without sleep."

If this general election goes to usual form either Prime Minister Keir Starmer or Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will be installed in 10 Downing Street by lunchtime the day after the vote.

Neither of them will have had any sleep the night before, waiting for the declarations in their own constituencies into the small hours, and then dealing with the fallout from the results elsewhere.

Read Adam's full piece here:

17:00:29

Farage finally rules out joining Tory party after election

Nigel Farage has finally ruled out joining the Conservative Party after the general election after weeks of failing to give a categorical answer.

Just two weeks ago, the Reform UK leader repeatedly sidestepped questions from Sky's deputy political editor Sam Coates, saying hedid not know what he would be having to eat in five years time, called the question "moronic" and said he had no intention of joining the Tories.

But he refused time and time again to give a more categorical answer.

Speaking to Sky's political editor Beth Rigby today, however, he finally said he would not seek to join the Tories.

He described the party as "ghastly", saying: "They betrayed the 2019 election result, Brexit voters. They have no interest in the truth. For them, it's all a game about being in power. [I have] no interest."

Pushed by Beth on if he would rule out joining the Tories, he said: "This [Reform UK] is a new political movement. I want nothing to do with them."

Asked again, Mr Farage did rule it out, saying: "If you don't work out that's a yes, I don't know what else I've got to say."

16:40:01

Lib Dem stunts will carry on until election day - but are they actually working?

By Matthew Thompson, political correspondent

The finish line is in sight. Most of us, politicians and journalists alike, have been on the road for weeks.

Batteries are running low. And yet, Sir Ed Davey's enthusiasm for hurling himself into the nearest body of water remains undimmed. The Lib Dems have a strategy, and they're sticking to it.

Which therefore begs the question: is that strategy actually working?

Such things are hard to measure. But polling data, as well as admittedly less scientific chats with the voting public, suggest it isn't exactly doing him any harm.

"I mean, it's entertaining," says Charlotte, watching Sir Ed prance around with a water noodle in the Cheltenham Lido.

"I don't know how much it really affects my political view, but he's likeable. He seems more relatable."

"I suppose it's a bit of fun really," says Joan, another onlooker. I ask her whether she rates the Lib Dems' chances of winning here, and she replies: "I’d like to think so, but I think possibly not."

According to Ipsos, a pollster that tracks party leader popularity, Sir Ed's personal satisfaction ratings have risen seven points since early June. 30% of people are satisfied with him, whilst 35% are not.

If a net satisfaction rating of -5 seems low, it's worth comparing it to others, with Sir Keir Starmer (-19) and Rishi Sunak (-55) lagging far behind.

The Lib Dems as a party also seem to be performing well, with seat predictions uniformly suggesting considerable gains on the 15 MPs they had before the election. Although this could easily be a function of Tory unpopularity as much as enthusiasm for the Lib Dems.

And speaking to journalists in Cheltenham today, a key Lib Dem target, Sir Ed said the party has expanded the number of seats it thinks are winnable, particularly in the South West of England.

His own constituency visits have suggested a similar pattern, with a trend towards visiting seats that would require larger swings to the Lib Dems.

So the mood on the big yellow bus is about as buoyant as Ed Davey in his customary life jacket. The stunts will keep coming.

But as politicians are fond of repeating, there's only one poll that counts. And there are still four days to go.

15:30:01

Campaign Check: Will Poland's economic growth overtake the UK's?

Both Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer have made various claims about the state of the UK's economy and their plans to change that.

But Sky's economics and data editor Ed Conway has fact-checked one of the Labour leader's pre-election claims about "British people falling behind".

"I'm not comfortable with a trajectory that will soon see Britain overtaken by Poland," Mr Starmer said last year.

So will Poland's economy soon overtake the UK's?

Not quite.

When considering both countries' GDP per capita, Poland's economy is indeed growing at a faster rate than the UK's at the moment.

"If you just assume that those lines continue as they have been for the last 10 years,Poland [will have] overtaken the UK [by 2030]. That is the point that Keir Starmer is making," Ed says.

"But here's the thing. You can't really treat economics like this because fast-growing frontier economies don't always maintain their growth rate. You can't always assume that that's going to continue as it was before."

Forecasts from the International Monetary Fund show that while the gap between both countries is narrowing, the UK is still 8% bigger in terms of GDP per capita than Poland by the end of the decade.

Using the same logic that the Labour leader is, Poland would overtake the US as the world's wealthiest economy by 2050 - a claim Ed calls "ridiculous".

"That is the mathematical trick that's being played in order to make it seem like the UK is falling behind. And it's just one of the tricks that we've seen in this long election campaign."

14:58:22

University Tory association 'not affiliated to the party' - spokesman

As we reported earlier, a group of students from the Warwick University Conservatives Association have been condemned for an "utterly abhorrent" video in which they sing a Nazi marching song.

The clip, taken at a chairman's dinner at the Warwick Conservatives Association two weeks ago, shows members singing "Erika" - a song used by the SS and the armed forces of Nazi Germany (read more on the story here).

In a statement, the Union of Jewish Students condemned the "blatant and unchallenged support for Nazism".

We asked the Conservative Party for a response to the video - and a spokesman told us that the group "is not affiliated to the Conservative Party".

He added: "There is no place for racism in the Conservative Party and wewill always ensure appropriate action is taken against any member who acts in ways that are not in accordance with our values of tolerance and respect."

The spokesman did not say if the party has launched an investigation to determine if anyone seen in the clip is a party member.

14:26:12

Poll tracker: Where do the parties stand today?

Our live poll tracker collates the results of opinion surveys carried out by all the main polling organisations - and allows you to see how the political parties are performing in the run-up to the general election.

With under a week to go, the Tories and Labour have taken a drop, while support for Reform UK and the Liberal Democrats is on the rise.

Read more about the trackerhere.

13:47:57

Memorable moments from general election campaigns gone by

Since Rishi Sunak called the election, Sky News' Politics Hub has been looking back over memorable moments from campaigns gone by.

FromDavid Cameron's football own goal, to an upstartNick Cleggemerging as the unlikely victor from the UK's first televised leaders debate, there were plenty to choose from.

We've collated them all here for you to reminisce on - and a fair warning, given the fine weather we've had this week, one might leave you craving some ice cream…

13:16:21

Farage: 'I simply could not stand aside'

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage is addressing his party's rally in Birmingham now.

Entering the stage to chants of his name - and fireworks - Mr Farage says Reform UK is a party that believes in "having fun and enjoying life".

He explains how at "very short notice" he decided to become leader of the party.

"I simply could not stand aside."

Mr Farage refers to "slippery Sunak", and Sir Keir Starmer, who he says doesn't know how to lead the UK in difficult times.

"Keir Starmer has the charisma of a damp rag," the Reform UK leader says.

He also claims the BBC has "abused its power" as the national broadcaster, to loud applause from those in the room.

Mr Farage says he will campaign to abolish the licence fee.

Election latest: Reform candidate disowns party amid racism row - and backs Tories (2024)

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