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What does the return of Nigel Farage as leader for Reform and standing in the general election mean for Kent?

After one of the most significant U-turns in recent political history, Nigel Farage has proved again that love him or loathe him, he is one of the most astute politicians around.

As he embarks on his eighth attempt to become an MP, what does his return to the frontline mean for voters in Kent?

Nigel Farage confirmed his U-turn that he will stand for Parliament again in the general election
Nigel Farage confirmed his U-turn that he will stand for Parliament again in the general election

Here’s our political editor Paul Francis with the key take-aways from his shock announcement that he is, after all, going to stand for Parliament, albeit not in Kent…

1. With opinion polls predicting something close to a Conservative wipe-out in Kent, the Farage factor is something that has the potential to add to their electoral nightmare. One small consolation for the Tories is that in choosing to contest a seat in Essex, he probably won’t be around in Kent quite as much had he opted for a constituency here but how much will his influence swing Tory voters to Reform?

2. The Reform party under his leadership will ensure that the government’s failure to meet its target for stopping small boats crossings remains under scrutiny - as will the daily images of would-be migrants being picked up from often overloaded dinghies at Dover.

3. Assuming the leadership of the Reform party without any kind of vote or mandate from members may look like the politics of a banana republic and suggest he’s a one-man band but party members won’t really care.

4. Labour isn’t immune from the Farage factor but not in the same way as the Conservatives, who are vulnerable to the charge that will be made against them, namely that they are too soft on migrants. Labour will try to stand aside from the debate as it plays out over the campaign.

5. Although he is seen as an astute political operator, he can fly off the handle in interviews and can come across as tetchy in the face of what he sees as loaded questions - particularly from broadcasters. His patience sometimes wears thin and can lead to him coming across as cantankerous and irritable.

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