Nigel Farage demands spot on BBC's Question Time live election debate

Farage was speaking after a youGov poll put Reform ahead of the Tories for the first time.

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage speaks to the media during a press conference at The Wellington, central London, while on the General Election campaign trail. Picture date: Friday June 14, 2024.
Reform UK leader Nigel Farage at The Wellington, in central London, on Friday. (PA)

Nigel Farage has demanded a slot on the BBC's Question Time election debate next week.

The Reform UK leader told a press conference on Friday that one recent poll - which put his party just ahead of the Conservatives for the first time - meant he should share a platform on the BBC's four-way leaders' special on 20 June.

“I think we can demand of right now that the BBC put us into that debate,” he said. "I would also very much like to do a debate head-to-head with Keir Starmer and the reason’s very simple – we think this should be the immigration election.”

Farage also labelled himself “leader of the opposition” during the press conference, held in central London. He also predicted his party would get six million votes. That total would be significantly more than the 3.9 million votes his former party, Ukip, received under his leadership in 2015 when it secured 12.6% of the vote.

Read more: Will Nigel Farage's Reform UK 'beat' the Tories in the election?

The debate next week, hosted by Fiona Bruce, is currently scheduled to include representatives of the UK’s four largest parties: the Conservatives, Labour Party, SNP and Liberal Democrats.

The shock YouGov poll released on Thursday night showed support for Reform at 19%, just ahead of the Tories on 18%.

And while the results of the poll were certainly newsworthy, it is the only poll to date to have Reform ahead of Rishi Sunak's party.

According to the PA news agency, an average of all polls carried out wholly or partly during the seven days to 13 June puts Labour on 43%, 21 points ahead of the Conservatives on 22%, followed by Reform on 14%, the Lib Dems on 10% and the Greens on 6%.

Opinion poll tracker. See story POLITICS Election Polls. Infographic PA Graphics. An editable version of this graphic is available if required. Please contact

That means Reform’s average is up one percentage point on the previous week while the Tories are down one point.

And while Reform may be polling higher numbers than the Lib Dems, the UK's first-past-the-post voting system means it is highly unlikely Farage's party will get anywhere near the number of seats being targetted by Ed Davey.

The latest prediction based on opinion polls from 05 Jun 2024 to 13 Jun 2024, sampling 19,426 people. (Electoral Calculus)
The latest prediction based on opinion polls from 05 Jun 2024 to 13 Jun 2024, sampling 19,426 people. (Electoral Calculus)

According to polling experts Electoral Calculus, The Conservatives are projected to win between 42 and 236 seats, the Lib Dems between 34-77 seats, the SNP between 20-38 and Reform way back, with an expected one seat and a possible high of seven.

However, it is clear that Reform UK has continued the renewed momentum sparked when Farage announced he was taking over as leader and would stand for election in the Essex seat of Clacton on 4 June.

The continued rise of the Reform UK is also marked it could potentially spell election disaster for the Conservatives, one of the UK's leading election experts warned in the wake of the YouGov poll.

Polling expert Professor Sir John Curtice said Reform's growing support was a "real, real problem for the Conservatives" because nearly all the voters shifting their support were switching from those who had previously backed the Tories in 2019.

“Any chance the Conservatives ever had when they fired the starting gun on May 22 that they might be able to narrow Labour’s lead was predicated on them being able to win back those Reform voters.

“Their failure already to squeeze the Reform vote before Farage entered was itself bad news, and then Farage has boosted it further and made things even worse.

Prof Curtice said the average of recent polls shows backing for Reform at about 15% or 16%, was an “utter disaster for the Conservatives”.

Sunak insisted that voting for Reform UK would be “handing Labour a blank cheque” as he played down the YouGov survey.

But in Friday's press conference, Farage claimed his party was "well ahead" of the Conservatives in several regions including the North East, the North West, the East Midlands, in the West Midlands, as well as in the so-called red wall. Adding to this he said: "The inflection point means that, actually, if you vote Conservative in the red wall, you will almost certainly get Labour. A Conservative vote in the red wall is now a wasted vote."