Nigel Farage just 364,474 votes shy of becoming leader of the opposition, analysis shows

Nigel Farage’s Reform UK would have needed to win over just 364,474 more voters to gain more seats than the Conservatives in Thursday’s election, shock analysis reveals.

The insurgent right-wing party won 14 per cent of the votes but gained just five MPs, due to the even spread of its support.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives won just 19 per cent but gained 121 seats under the first-past-the-post voting system. While Labour’s average votes per seat won was 23,600, Reform’s average was 820,745 per seat, the number-crunching shows.

Nigel Farage celebrates winning one or Reform’s five seats (Reuters)
Nigel Farage celebrates winning one or Reform’s five seats (Reuters)

And Reform was second in 98 constituencies, meaning that if enough voters had switched from the winning party, it could have leapfrogged the Tories to become the official opposition based on Thursday’s results.

In order to overtake the Conservatives, Reform would have needed 672,947 votes in the seats where they came second, The Telegraph calculated. It would have required just 336,474 people to switch from the winning party to Reform, less than 1 per cent of the total electorate, to make Mr Farage leader of the opposition.

The figures will worry candidates already vying to take on the Tory leadership from Rishi Sunak, who has said he will step down after leading the party to its worst electoral defeat in history.

Expected contenders who held their seats in Thursday’s overnight bloodbath include Suella Braverman, Kemi Badenoch, Robert Jenrick and Tom Tugendhat.

In his own post-election victory speech, Mr Farage claimed his party had triggered a “political earthquake”. “Believe me folks, this is just the first step of something that is going to stun all of you,” he added.

The arch-Brexiteer outlined plans to professionalise the party between now and the next general election after candidate vetting troubles saw several exposed as having made racist and sexist comments online.

He said: “Above all what we’re going to do from today is we’re going to professionalise the party, we’re going to democratise the party, and those few bad apples that have crept in will be gone, will be long gone, and we will never have any of their type back in our organisation.

“You have a 100 per cent promise on that.”

He has previously said the Conservatives will fail to properly hold Labour to account in government and promised to act as the opposition to Sir Keir Starmer’s party.