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General election: Nigel Farage ‘terrorising’ Tories and Rishi Sunak too afraid, says Lord Mandelson | Politics News

Nigel Farage is “terrorising” the Conservative Party and Rishi Sunak is afraid to take him on, Labour grandee Lord Mandelson has told Sky News.

The former cabinet minister and spin-doctor, who masterminded Tony Blair’s 1997 landslide win, argued the job of the Tory leader should be to stand up to Mr Farage and Reform UK rather than seeking to appease them.

Trying to outflank Mr Farage had only served to embolden the maverick politician and make him stronger, the peer said as he appeared on Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips.

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The decision of the former UKIP leader to contest a Tory-held seat at the election and take the reins at Reform UK has exacerbated Mr Sunak’s electoral woes, threatening to split the vote and the party.

Fresh polls gave an even bleaker outlook for the Conservatives, with one indicating the party on course to pick up just 72 seats.

A separate survey on Thursday night put Reform ahead of the Tories for the first time with 19% of the vote, compared with 18% for the Conservatives.

It led Mr Farage, who is set to launch Reform’s manifesto on Monday, declare his party was now the opposition to Labour.

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Meanwhile, cabinet minister Mark Harper has repeated his party’s warning that a vote for Reform UK would give Labour “a very large majority” and a “blank cheque” in office.

As well as failing to distance himself from his predecessors – Boris Johnson and Liz Truss – Mr Sunak had made an error in vying to “outflank” Reform UK, argued Lord Mandelson.

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The peer said: “He’s doing so by appeasing them, by sort of throwing red meat, to Farage, which is not outflanking him. It’s just making him bolder. It’s just making him, frankly, stronger than Sunak. And therefore the tactics, the strategy has been got wrong, in my view, by Sunak, right from the beginning.

“But I think the reason he doesn’t take on Farage is because he sees him as a stronger politician and frankly, he’s afraid to take him on.”

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On Mr Farage himself, Lord Mandelson said: “I think he terrifies the Conservative Party. I mean, he terrified David Cameron into conceding a referendum on our membership of the European Union, and now he’s doing the same, to Sunak. He terrorises them.

“Now you, you’ve got to stand up to terrorists you know, in this world and including in, in British domestic politics.”

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He added: “But Farage is an effective politician. There’s no point in denying it. He has a clear message. It’s not one that I happen to agree with in any respect at all.

“I think that Farage is much better at, you know, taking people down and destroying things than he is in offering a constructive, clear alternative.

“But be that as it may, the job of the leader of the Conservative Party is to take that on and show an alternative to the right, not to appease it.”

He later clarified: “I’m not saying he’s literally a terrorist. I’m saying he’s terrorising the Conservative Party.”

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