Meet James McMurdock, the fifth Reform MP that nobody expected

Reform UK’s fifth MP James McMurdock is about to take one of the biggest pay cuts in Westminster to take his seat in parliament.

The surprise late entry to “Reform bridgehead” in the Commons was working for a big financial firm in the City of London when he put his name forward as a paper candidate for the seat of South Basildon and East Thurrock.

Then on Friday, just after 5am, long after most candidates had gone to bed for a long sleep, Mr McMurdock was declared as the 650th and final MP elected in the 2024 general election.

James McMurdock enjoys a pint with Nigel Farage (PA)
James McMurdock enjoys a pint with Nigel Farage (PA)

The result was so close that counting was suspended at 6am for the process to start again at 2pm, after Labour demanded a third recount.

But in the end, McMurdock was declared to have won by 98 votes; down from the original 127 in his first count.

The 38-year-old, who has previously worked for Barclays Capital, Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers, specialising in energy, infrastructure, and manufacturing, revealed he got a text from his boss shortly after.

It said: “I guess I’ll be getting your resignation letter soon.”

Mr McMurdock admitted to still being in shock and getting over the exhaustion.

He told The Independent: “I feel l have been on a long drive in the dark and the petrol light is flashing.”

But, despite giving up a very well paid job in the City, he said he is “up for it” to be an MP and take the salary hit in the next five years.

Mr McMurdock spoke to The Independent at the East Thurrock Community Football Club in his constituency, where he was joined by his party leader Nigel Farage. The club, which was having its first game as a relaunched entity, has a chairman who used to be a Ukip councillor.

McMurdock meets The Independent’s David Maddox (Stuart Mitchell)
McMurdock meets The Independent’s David Maddox (Stuart Mitchell)

Farage and his team were packing up on Friday afternoon when news that they might get a fifth MP came through.

It was Farage’s communications man Dan Jukes who warned the team that they might have more than four MPs.

Mr Farage said: “I called James and asked what help he had. It turned out it was just him and his parents.”

After being hit with a number of candidate scandals which hurt them in the final days of the election, the Reform UK leader was relieved that the surprise MP “is such a solid decent guy who is going to be really good for us”.

Mr McMurdock said he wants to make politics more accountable to taxpayers.

He said: “I am obviously a small state, low tax person. I want government out of people’s lives.

“I just want decisions and spending to be accountable to taxpayers and that’s what I hope I can do in the next five years.”

He is many ways the sort of person who would have previously voted Conservative but has switched to Farage’ Reform UK.

“It’s really incredible what has happened,” he said. “I didn’t expect it but I am certainly up for the challenge.”