How many seats will Reform win after overtaking the Tories for the first time?

How many seats will Reform win after overtaking the Tories for the first time?
Nigel Farage taunts Rishi Sunak by rapping hit Eminem song
Nigel Farage/Eminem

Opinion polls have, for a while now, placed the Labour Party as the leading UK political party, with many expecting Sir Keir Starmer to become the next prime minister following the general election on 4 July – but the question of which party may form the official opposition continues to be debated, with Reform UK now claiming they’re exactly that following a YouGov opinion poll.

The polling company published its latest voting intention data on Thursday night, which saw Nigel Farage’s party overtake the Conservatives in the polls for the first time.

Labour were listed first as having a 37 per cent vote share, with Reform UK almost 20 percentage points behind on 19 per cent, and the Tories just behind with 18 per cent.

YouGov has stressed, though, that the results are “still within the margin of error”.

In a video posted to Twitter/X on Thursday, before appearing on ITV’s leaders’ debate, Farage described the news as “the inflection point” of the general election campaign.

He said: “The only wasted vote now is a Conservative vote.

“We are the challengers to Labour, and we are on our way.”

Farage has also claimed Reform UK are “now the real opposition to Labour”, and bragged to Conservative candidate Penny Mordaunt about the YouGov poll in a heated exchange on immigration during the debate programme.

After Mordaunt branded Farage a “Labour enabler”, the ex-Ukip leader clapped back: “Penny, I don’t believe a single word that you say. You deceived us with the last four manifestos, I don’t believe you on the fifth, and as for a ‘Labour enabler’, we are now ahead of you in the national polls.

“A vote for you, is actually now a vote for Labour.”

However, voting intention polls are not the same as the projected number of seats, due to the nature of our country’s first past the post system whereby the candidate with the highest number of votes in a constituency is elected.

This means that unless votes for a political party are substantial enough, and pool in constituencies in big enough numbers to be the leading party, an impressive voting intention may not always translate to seats.

In fact, YouGov also produce data known as an MRP (multi-level regression and post-stratification model) which estimates how the parties might fare in terms of seats come 4 July.

The polling company explains: “Our model uses a large sample of data collected from our panel to discover relationships between people’s characteristics and their answers to the voting intention question.

“It then combines these relationships/patterns with information about the characteristics of people living in different constituencies to construct estimates of how vote intention would look in each constituency, if we were able to do very large polls in every constituency.”

And unfortunately for Farage and Reform UK, while the voting intention may look promising, YouGov’s latest MRP estimates they won’t bag themselves any seats, which are kind of necessary to be the effective opposition to Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour which they are pitching themselves as.

In an interview with GB News, deputy leader David Bull said: “If we got two, three, four [seats], that would be incredible”.

Even in the Essex town of Clacton, where Farage is standing for election, the polling company is saying it’ll likely be a Conservative hold, meaning it could be the Brexiteer’s eighth failed attempt at becoming a member of parliament.

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