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Tory MPs are already in defection talks with Reform UK, claims leader Richard Tice

Tory MPs are already in defection talks with Reform UK, claims leader Richard Tice

Richard Tice backs Ben Habib in Wellingborough by-election

Reform UK leader Richard Tice has boasted that “more than one” Tory MP is in secret discussions with his party to defect, in what would be the latest blow for Rishi Sunak.

Speaking at his new year launch event a fortnight ago, he encouraged the likes of Lee Anderson to jump ship, and warned any Tories who stayed put would face a tough election battle from Reform, with his party set to take around 10 percent of the vote.

Mr Tice said there would be no election pacts this year to help Mr Sunak, warning all Tory MPs: “You’ve all broken Britain; you’re all responsible”

“So there are no special deals. We stand in every single seat in England, Scotland and Wales”.

This morning he told the Sun on Sunday: “There is increasing desperation in the Red Wall. Some Red Wall Tories have been scoping out defecting to us – through third parties. There is more than one.”

Ben Habib Launches His Election Campaign In Wellingborough

Mr Tice campaigning in the Wellingborough by-election (Image: Getty)

A source close to Reform UK also predicts that if Nigel Farage re-enters party politics to campaign for the former Brexit Party, “that trickle of MPs talking about defecting could become a stream”.

Last week’s shocking Telegraph poll, which showed the Tories on course for a wipeout worse than John Major’s in 1997, also revealed Reform UK could be the kingmakers.

Reform UK, while not set to win any seats according to the huge MRP poll, said that their vote share could be the difference between Labour failing to secure a majority, and Sir Keir entering No. 10 with a landslide majority of 120. In all, Mr Tice could be on course to cost Rishi Sunak around 100 constituencies later this year.

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Reform are set to best in Lee Anderson’s seat, who has been encouraged to jump ship (Image: Getty)

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The party is on course to have its strongest electoral showing in Ashfield, the constituency of Lee Anderson, who resigned as Tory deputy chairman this week over his opposition to the Prime Minister’s flagship Rwanda Bill.

Mr Tice’s party is predicted to win 22 percent of the vote in Mr Anderson’s Red Wall seat, just one percent less than Mr Anderson himself. However the Tories also received a key warning about another seat: Clacton.

The seaside town in Essex was once the only constituency to elect a UKIP MP in a General Election.

Despite the Tories’ 24,702 majority, a new survey showed Nigel Farage could win the seat, and overtake the Conservatives by 10 points if he stood.

In 2014, Mr Farage managed to secure the defections of two Tory MPs to UKIP, causing a crisis of confidence in David Cameron. Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless left the Conservatives largely over the EU, and sparked by-elections in their seats, both of which they won.

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