Richard Tice, the leader of the Reform Party, has announced that he will run in the Old Bexley and Sidcup byelections, as he attacks the “consocialism” of Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party.
Formerly known as the Brexit Party, Mr Tice’s party has advocated lower taxes, campaigned against what it calls “awakened nonsense” and protested against the “erosion” of civil liberties during coronavirus blockages.
The by-election was called after the death of James Brokenshire, a former Tory cabinet minister who died of lung cancer earlier this month at the age of 53.
Mr Brokenshire had been a Member of Parliament for Old Bexley and Sidcup since 2010 and won the last seat with almost 19,000 votes ahead of his Labor rival – a sizable majority.
The South East London constituency has also fired a Tory MP since its inception in 1983 and was previously owned by former Prime Minister Ted Heath.
Despite the Conservatives’ clear lead in the constituency, Mr Tice told the The telegraph of the day he wanted to send a “powerful message to Boris Johnson” about the impact of his government’s decision to raise taxes.
Mr Tice, who replaced Nigel Farage at the helm earlier in 2021, argued that the election of a Reform MP, who did not send a MP back to the House of Commons, including under the title of Brexit Party would be a “massive awakening”.
“While it is awful that this election is taking place, I stand to ensure that a choice is given to the people of Bexley and Sidcup,” Mr Tice said.
“The call for reform to voters in this traditionally conservative seat is to use this moment to send a powerful message to Boris Johnson and his cabinet. Here, voters did not expect the Prime Minister to come up with Consocialism, a heavily taxed and highly regulated nurturing state.
“We now have the highest overall taxes in 70 years and the lowest medium-term growth forecasts in 60 years. This means authoritative checks and saving long waiting lists.
“This means much higher energy costs even as you approach the mountain foothills at net zero cost.”
The process of selecting the Conservative candidate to challenge the by-election after Mr Brokenshire’s death is still ongoing, but Labor has already selected Daniel Francis – a Bexley adviser and former leader of the Labor group on the council.
In a video message, Mr. Francis, who lives in the constituency, said he would work “tirelessly” for the community if elected.