Reform UK raises £1.5m after Nigel Farage’s return as leader

Reform UK raises £1.5m after Nigel Farage’s return as leader

Reform UK has raised £1.5m worth of funds in the days after Nigel Farage’s return as party leader, when he declared he would run to be an MP.

While Reform’s electoral fortunes have been transformed, its war chest has been boosted by money from thousands of new members as well as pledges from bigger donors, the Guardian has learned.

A new poll by YouGov put the party just one point behind the Conservatives, who had fallen to 18% and face the prospect of losses being exacerbated by the threat to their right.

Donations to Reform this week are understood to have included a “substantial cheque” from the singer and actor Holly Valance, a party supporter who is married to the property developer Nick Candy.

The financial boost comes as it emerged that Nigel Farage will be able to draw on taxpayer-funded extra security. The Home Office has offered him additional private security after objects were thrown at him during campaigning for the general election.

A cup and another object were thrown at Farage on Tuesday while he was on top of a party battlebus in Barnsley and last week a milkshake was thrown over him in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, where he is running.

The Home Office has a scheme to offer private security guards to politicians deemed to be facing heightened threats. Police hope any copycat attacks may be deterred by the fact that in both incidents the suspects were arrested quickly.

A police source said: “A demonstration that both in Essex and Barnsley recently local officers were there very quickly, made arrests, is a signal that we are there and able to respond quite quickly.” The source added: “I don’t think any sort of security would potentially stop someone walking up and throwing a milkshake over anybody.”

The boost in Reform’s visibility and polling position have transformed a situation in which its efforts had previously been hampered by a lack of money and resources. Until now it had largely relied on £1.4m of loans from its former leader Richard Tice, who has stepped aside for Farage.

Much of the financial boost has come from new members, who have to pay £25 to join. Close to 14,000 have joined over the past seven days, according to the party, pushing membership to 45,000.

Another high-profile supporter has emerged in the form of Charlie Mullins, the founder of Pimlico Plumbers. Mullins had been a business adviser to the then prime minister David Cameron, and later became a vocal critic of Brexit and gave more than £70,000 to the Tories.

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He appeared on the sidelines of the event this month where Farage announced he was running, along with other backers including Candy. As recently as February, Candy had been praising the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, whom he had hailed as “a decent man with good values and good morals”.

In terms of how money is being spent, the Guardian understands Reform UK has been employing the services of an elite London-based communications firm. The consultants are Farrant Group, whose directors include a former Downing Street head of digital communications, Anthony Simon, and others with high-level governmental and diplomatic experience.

“It’s very Richard [Tice], a very corporate approach and some of the stuff they have been doing has been designed to make the party much more professional looking and rounded on issues beyond the stereotype,” said one source.

Tice had told an audience last month that it would not be easy to run an effective ground campaign at the next election on the money coming into the party at that point.

Reform UK was spending “less than £1.5m a year” compared with the £35m allowed for each party nationally and likely to be spent by the Conservatives and Labour in the year before an election. In contrast, the Brexit party brought in £17m in donations in 2019.