All the awkward comments Lee Anderson has said about Reform UK

All the awkward comments Lee Anderson has said about Reform UK

'I'm not a mercenary!' Lee Anderson says parents played role in Reform Party defection

GB News Videos / VideoElephant

In news which hardly surprised anyone (given he previously hinted at the potential move), Lee Anderson has defected from the Conservatives to Reform UK - despite previously ripping into the political party of which he is now a member.

The MP for Ashfield in Nottinghamshire had the Conservative Party whip suspended last month after he refused to apologise for claiming Islamists have “got control” of Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London.

In fact, following that suspension, Reform's deputy leader Ben Habib expressed concern over Anderson joining his party on Times Radio.

He said: "I would be quite circumspect about anyone who can’t express themselves accurately, clearly and in matters of great sensitivity without actually being able to identify properly what the issue is.

“I need to understand what he means by Islamist. I need to understand what’s in his mind.

"Does he think there’s a group of extreme Muslims controlling Sadiq, or does he think Sadiq is a prejudiced individual who’s perpetrating, you know, divisive politics?

“Lee clearly hasn’t got a grasp, in my view, of the language required to identify and address the problem”.

Despite this, Anderson was announced on Monday as the first MP for Reform UK – or to give it its full name, Reform UK: The Brexit Party – the political party previously known as The Brexit Party which was founded by ex-Ukip leader, Nigel Farage (he’s now Reform’s honorary president).

Anderson told reporters: “All I want is my country back. Now this may sound offensive to the liberal elite, but it’s not offensive to my friends or family, my constituents – and some of my constituents, like my mum and dad, who told me they could not vote for me unless I joined Reform UK.

“It’s been a gradual journey, and I think there’s been several tipping points over the past few months, and when I find myself suspended for speaking my mind – and, by the way, speaking up on behalf of millions of people up and down the country who agree with me – that, for me, is unpalatable.

“It’s a shocker, if I’m honest.”

Except the politician, who quit Labour for the Conservatives in 2018 and resigned from his role as the Tories’ deputy chairman in January for rebelling on the Rwanda bill, hasn’t always been entirely complimentary about the party he has now joined.

Offered “a lot of money” to join Reform

Back in November, The Times published an article – after obtaining a recording of a South Cambridgeshire Conservative Association event from the month before – in which Anderson bragged “a political party beginning with an R” offered him money to join them.

“I say a lot of money, I mean a lot of money,” he added.

It was pretty clear he was referring to Reform when he added: “If Reform are going to make any inroads at the next general election, they’ve got to win that seat in Mid Beds – and they won’t. They’ll probably come third and lose their deposit.”

Their candidate, Dave Holland, came fifth, picking up just 1,487 votes compared to Labour’s 13,782 votes, with their candidate Alistair Strathern winning the seat.

Anderson also claimed that “a vote for Reform is a vote for Labour”.

A Reform spokesperson denied the party had the funds to “do anything dodgy – not that it would do anything” and said: “We might be able to buy him a pint but that’s about it. This is all about damaging Reform UK at a time where we are surging in the polls.”

They also branded Anderson a “plank”.

Tice also waded into the discussion by insisting “no cash or money has in any way been offered” and that “desperate Tories will make desperate lies to save their skin”.

After his defection was announced, Anderson told GB News he was “not a mercenary” and denied any money exchanged hands before his move to Reform.

“I’ve had no money,” he said.

“We’re going to end up with a Labour government”

Then, as recently as January, Anderson was warning about the “threat” Reform posed to the Conservative Party.

He told his employer, GB News: “If Reform do pick off a lot of us Conservative MPs at the next election, then what’s going to happen is we’re going to end up with a Labour government, and a Labour government is the last thing I want.”

“Pound shop Nigel Farage”

Just days after that remark, Anderson again ripped into Reform by taking aim at its leader, Richard Tice.

Speaking to GB News, he said: “I agree with one of my constituents, who said to me earlier today he is a bit of a pound shop Nigel Farage.

“I think he’s a pound shop Nigel Farage and every time he opens his mouth recently on whichever media platform, he is coming across as Reform’s answer to Diane Abbott. He’s just saying ridiculous things.”

He added: “I think he needs to pipe down a little bit, because if the unthinkable happens and next year, we do get a Labour government and Richard Tice is on his media platforms, saying what a disaster ‘Starmergeddon’ and … the Labour Party are, I shall be reminding Mr Tice it was him that helped them get elected.”

Tice clapped back at Anderson on LBC and said: “Lee, who I like and is a nice guy, is terrified that he’s going to lose his seat.

“And perhaps he’s just a bit jealous that I’m pound shop, and he’s 30p Lee.”

When GB News’ political editor Christopher Hope asked Anderson “what changed has changed in 10 weeks” on Monday, given his past comments, the politician replied: “One big thing changed last week … and that was Mr [George] Galloway coming to parliament, and we have to fight back as a country, and the only party that’s offering that fight back – what I can see – is Reform UK.

“This is a big problem, it’s a concern, it’s worrying my constituents and constituents – people up and down the country – who are worried about people like George Galloway getting into parliament.

“We have to fight back, and unfortunately, the Conservative Party and the Labour Party won’t fight back, this party will fight back, and that’s why I’ve joined.”

In response to a question from Sky News’ Beth Rigby, Anderson stressed his priorities were “country, constituency, then party”.

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