By Dewi Morris | Political Editor
The party will be branded as ‘anti-lockdown’, which may present a problem for the Conservative Party as anti-lockdown Tories will have another political outlet to turn to.
While the re-branding has been criticised as opportunistic, especially as Nigel Farage called for an earlier and stricter lockdown in March, the party’s chairman, Richard Tice said the UK must “learn to live with” Covid-19 and must not “live in fear.” Farage has said he believes the second lockdown will “result in more life-years lost than it hopes to save.”
In England, YouGov have found that 23% of adults oppose the second lockdown. If this group vent their frustrations by supporting the new Reform UK (the only party to oppose COVID-19 lockdowns), then Farage may be able to break back into the UK political scene.
With the UK’s transitional period out of the EU coming to an end on January 1, it could be said that the Brexit Party needed a re-brand in order to maintain relevance.
Interestingly, commentators have compared the position the rebrand has put Boris Johnson in, to the position Theresa May found herself in when UKIP rebranded to the Brexit Party.
UKIP somewhat lost their purpose after their campaign was successful, when the UK voted to leave the EU. However, when the Brexit Party emerged, they were able to lay additional pressure on Theresa May for a harder Brexit and attracted Brexit-supporting Conservatives to vote against her bill and call for her resignation.
34 Tory MPs have voted against Boris Johnson’s second lockdown in England. Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee, compared a second lockdown to a ‘totalitarian state.’ The emergence of an anti-lockdown party could give confidence for more right-wing MPs to denounce stricter measures to curb the coronavirus.
A similar pattern of rebranding can be observed in the Senedd. The Brexit Party’s Senedd Group have said they will campaign in May’s Senedd election to scrap devolution altogether. However, two of their members, Mandy Jones, and David Rowlands have joined independent Caroline Jones, to form a new group named the Independent Alliance of Reform, which aims to reform rather than abolish devolution. The Brexit Party’s Senedd group leader, Mark Reckless has joined the Abolish the Assembly Party, meaning the Brexit Party no longer have any seats in the Welsh Parliament.
Following the latest Welsh Political Barometer from November 3, in May’s election the Abolish the Assembly Party are predicted to win four seats, while the Indpendent Alliance of Reform and the Brexit Party (or Reform UK) are not projected to win any seats.
In December’s general election the Brexit Party won 2% of the vote and no seats. This rebrand is needed to give Nigel Farage any hope of re-entering the mainstream political scene in a post-Brexit UK.