Labour in position to stop Farage becoming an MP, campaign group confirms after collapse in Tory vote

Anti-Brexit group Best for Britain says its analysis confirms that Labour is in a strong position to win Clacton and stop Nigel Farage becoming an MP.

The claim came as part of a wider tactical voting analysis by the group published this morning for 451 seats across the UK including a plan to unseat prime minister Rishi Sunak, his chancellor Jeremy Hunt and predecessor Liz Truss.

The news has broken as Farage plans to unveil Reform’s “contract with the people” in Wales, his party’s version of a manifesto and has declared that he will be prime minister in 2029.

Best for Britain’s chief executive Naomi Smith said that her group hoped to provide a roadmap for the four in 10 voters looking at voting tactically for centre left parties and wanted to minimise the number of Tory seats and prevent “nativist, populist parties” like Farage’s Reform UK getting a foothold in parliament.

She said that previous votes in the area showed that there had been strong Labour support in Harwich, part of the Clacton seat, which “was suppressed by Brexit”. But Harwich had been held by Labour in 1997 and 2001.

Jovan Owusu-Nepaul could be Farage’s main competition (Supplied)
Jovan Owusu-Nepaul could be Farage’s main competition (Supplied)

She said: “Our analysis shows that if the Greens and Lib Dems vote Labour then Labour can come through the middle and win Clacton.”

It comes afterLabour claimed the collapse in Tory support is now so bad that only they can stop Nigel Farage winning Clacton if the last remaining Conservatives vote tactically for their candidate.

In 2019 Tory MP and former actor Giles Watling won Clacton with 72.3 per cent of the vote and a majority of 24,702, with Labour a very distant third on just 15.5 per cent.

But with the arrival of Mr Farage as the Reform UK candidate in a seat twice won by his former party Ukip, the dynamics appear to have changed.

Based on local projections from Electoral Calculus, Mr Farage is now the frontrunner with 39 per cent of the vote, ahead of Labour in a surprise second place with 27.6 per cent, and the Tories in third on 25.3 per cent.

The poll led Clacton Labour to post on social media: “Latest Electoral Calculus polls for Clacton show that Jovan [Owusu-Nepaul] is the ONLY vote to stop Farage and bring CHANGE to Clacton!”

A Reform source told The Independent that the party’s internal national polling suggests there is “a ginormous swing” to Labour from the Tories but would not comment on Clacton.

However, localised polling based on national projections is notoriously inaccurate and leading pollster Lord Robert Hayward has warned against using Electoral Calculus as an accurate tool for predictions.

Jovan Owusu-Nepaul (centre) is Labour’s candidate for Clacton (Martin Suker)
Jovan Owusu-Nepaul (centre) is Labour’s candidate for Clacton (Martin Suker)

Nevertheless, Mr Farage has already clashed with his Labour opponent over Mr Owusu-Nepaul saying on social media that his favourite drink is “the tears of white men” in response to another tweet.

In a sign he is taking Mr Owusu-Nepaul more seriously than just another Labour paper candidate, the Reform UK leader said: “If [Keir] Starmer thinks that the race in Clacton is a pantomime, perhaps he should look no further than his own candidate.”

He added: “I’m shocked that this man is an official candidate for a Labour Party that says it has changed.”

The Tories have said they do not respond to polling. However, Mr Watling has said he believes he can beat Mr Farage.

He was recently endorsed by pro-EU rejoin campaigner and journalist Tim Walker, who posted: “[It is] clear Jovan Owusu-Nepaul⁩ is a great guy, but it’s going to be necessary to rally behind the candidate with the greatest chance of defeating Farage, even if that happens to be the incumbent Tory,⁦ Giles Watling. Clacton is a special situation.”