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What does Nigel Farage’s comeback mean for the election? 

Welcome to Tuesday’s Early Edition from i.

He has never been an MP – despite trying and failing seven times – but Nigel Farage has still become one of Britain’s most influential politicians. Despite his prestigious education and early career as commodities trader in London, the former Ukip and Brexit Party leader has become a leading anti-establishment figure. Now he is hoping to strike luck under a different banner – this time as the leader of Reform UK. After weeks of deflecting on whether or not he would not stand as a candidate in the upcoming general election, which he called the “most boring election campaign we have ever seen in our lives,” Farage took to a stage in London yesterday to declare he was back to lead the “revolt”. “Yes, a revolt,” he said. “A turning of our backs on the political status quo. It doesn’t work. Nothing in this country works any more.” Among his claims were that Reform would win more votes than the 4.5 million secured by Ukip at the 2015 election. Whether or not that happens, his candidacy is likely to be a blow to the Conservatives. We’ll take a look at what the impact could be, after the headlines.

 Today’s news, and why it matters

Why Corbyn supporters may turn their back on him in Islington North. The former Labour leader is standing as an independent in the constituency he has held since 1983 – which meant automatic expulsion from the party, reports Rachel Wearmouth.

David Lammy has said he is ‘100 per cent behind the UK’s nuclear deterrent’ after Russia’ invasion of Ukraine changed his mind on the issue. The shadow Foreign Secretary, who voted against renewing the Trident nuclear programme in 2016, tells i the ongoing conflict and visits to Ukraine had “truly shown me the seriousness of the systemic risk that Vladimir Putin poses to our country”.

Sir Keir Starmer is on course to win a majority larger than Sir Tony Blair’s, according to the highest-profile general election poll so far. A YouGov survey using the MRP technique to forecast the result of every single constituency in Britain suggests that Labour would win 422 Commons seats with the Conservatives far behind on 140.

A 91-year-old man has become the first patient in England to receive an artificial cornea – opening the door to NHS waiting list cuts. Cecil Farley said: “I can still see my wife after 63 years of marriage, we can just carry on as normal and live life as fully as we can.”

Thames Water has been criticised for supporting planning applications for thousands of new homes in Oxfordshire by reassuring councils its facilities could handle increased sewage flows despite evidence to the contrary. The Environment Agency objected to two applications for housing developments over “significant concerns” with Thames Water’s Oxford Sewage Treatment Works that meant any new-build estate would “cause an unacceptable environmental risk”.

HMRC has apologised after around 500,000 families did not receive their child benefit payments as parents branded the delay a “shambles”. Thirty per cent of people who should have been paid today haven’t received the benefit, according to the tax office.

The warmest spring on record will make way for a forecast of “higher than average temperatures” in June, setting the tone for a hot summer. With the start of the meteorological summer this weekend, the highest temperatures recorded on Sunday reaching 24°C in Worcestershire, the Met Office said we saw a “taste of summer” which will make way for more changeable conditions this week.

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How could Nigel Farage impact the general election?

Could he win in Clacton? Back in February, Nigel Farage pondered whether he would stand again as an MP during an interview with the Times’ Decca Aitkenhead. “Do I want to be an MP? Do I want to spend every Friday for the next five years in Clacton?” he mused at the time. “Patterns of human behaviour suggest I would think that way. But do I want to do it? I’m totally undecided.” Yesterday he admitted to changing his mind. “Difficult though it is, I can’t let down those millions of people,” he said. The seat in Essex, which includes Jaywick, named as the most deprived town in England, was most recently represented by Conservative Giles Watling who has a comfortable majority. But it is also the only parliamentary seat ever held by Ukip, when former Tory Douglas Carswell won it in a by-election. It also had the second highest vote in favour of Brexit in the 2016 referendum. A poll by Survation in January, which was commissioned by former Ukip donor and Farage ally Arron Banks suggested he could win, with 37 per cent of the vote. Several media outlets sent reporters out to the Essex constituency to take the political temperature. The Telegraph found residents prefer Nigel and his pint to “Dishy Rishi”. “He’s the only person who says what everybody thinks, he doesn’t hold back,” one resident told the paper. Another said: “Nigel is well-liked. It’s the pint of beer and the cigar. He will definitely win here.” But the BBC found some more skeptical  voters. Resident Sarah Allen said: “He’s never won any election where he’s stood to be an MP and I don’t understand why people focus so much on him when he doesn’t bring anything other than division and difficulties, as far as I can work out,” she said. 

How could his campaign impact the election? Nigel Farage has vowed to be the “voice of opposition,” claiming that the two main parties sound the same. And his replacement of Richard Tice as leader of Reform means that he will take part in the seven-way leaders debate on the BBC this Friday. His rhetoric and the party’s manifesto is likely to mean the topic of immigration will become more prominent during the election. Already the Tories have put out a new immigration cap in what was seen as a counter to Farage’s announcement (read more on that here). And his presence as leader is also likely to re-energise Reform in other parts of the country. While unlikely to win in other seats, that may serve to split the vote, as has already been seen in a number of by-elections. Earlier this year the party secured double-digit vote shares to come third in Wellingborough and Kingswood behind Labour and the Conservatives. Last month the Blackpool South by-election saw the Tories just 117 votes ahead of Reform. 

Why will it impact the Tories? The possibility that Reform could split the votes in seats where the Conservatives are clinging on will be one of the biggest fears for Sunak’s party. Farage’s announcement also came on the day that a major poll showed he may face an even bigger disaster at the polls than previously thought. Chris Hopkins, political research director of polling company Savanta, said yesterday: “This is nothing short of a disaster for the Conservative Party. Everything about this election, from the timing to the apparent strategy, was aimed at squeezing Reform UK’s vote. With Farage’s announcement that is now much harder, and Rishi Sunak has nowhere to go – politically or electorally. Labour will be rubbing their hands with glee.” Read the full story here.  

Nigel Farage announced he will stand during the upcoming general election at a press conference in London on Monday (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty)

 Around the world

Four more hostages kidnapped by Hamas on 7 October have been confirmed dead by the Israeli military – including a British-Israeli man. Nadav Popplewell, 51, was killed along with Chaim Peri, Yoram Metzger, Amiram Cooper “a number of months” ago in the city of Khan Younis, Israel’s military said on Monday.

Donald Trump joins TikTok to battle Joe Biden. He’s already winning. The former US president is already outperforming Biden on the hugely popular app, but will Trump’s on-brand posts have any meaningful impact? Chris Stokel-Walker reports.

Ukraine has begun striking targets inside Russia with US weapons including Himars rockets, according to sources on both sides and open source investigators, after the White House granted permission for it to do so last week. Kyiv’s shelling with the use of US weapons systems have destroyed a Russian base, including an Iskander missile launcher, in the border region of Belgorod, according to reports.

The great white shark, the hammerhead and other “pelagic” sharks owe their status as the ocean’s top predators to a sustained bout of global warming 93 million years ago, a study has found. Climate change enabled these species – which also include tiger sharks, blue sharks, oceanic white tips and makos – to rule the waves.

French intelligence officials believe Russia is behind a stunt in which five coffins draped in a French flag and bearing the inscription “French soldiers of Ukraine” were deposited near the Eiffel Tower. The coffins that they left were later found to contain sacks of plaster.

A Dutch tourist has been arrested for defacing the Domus excavations that survived the eruption of Mount Vesuvius near Naples. The unnamed 27-year old man was held after staff discovered graffiti on a frescoed wall in an ancient Roman villa in Herculaneum on Monday.

 Watch out for…

 India , where more than 640 million votes are being counted in the world’s biggest election. Narendra Modi is expecting to win a rare third term as PM after a decade in power. 

 Thoughts for the day

Sunak v Starmer: the key to winning a live TV debate. Both men would be well served by abandoning the debate prep, advises Kate McCann.

Brits are losing their work ethic as migrants work harder than ever. Many native Brits who can, but won’t work, hate us because we’re not like them, writes Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

Why Peppa Pig is the ultimate role model for our daughters. It’s worrying that so many parents dislike Peppa because she’s badly behaved, says Rebecca Reid.

If you don’t know any children, it’s hard to explain to you how much they love Peppa Pig (Photo: Christof Stache/AFP)

 Culture Break

If you think you don’t like opera, you’ve never been to Glyndebourne. The Sussex festival celebrates its 90th anniversary this year – and the unique experience can go a long way in showing that opera isn’t just for the well-heeled, writes Emily Bootle.

A picnic at Glyndebourne in 2013 (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

 The Big Read

Labour win could be final nail in coffin for Johnson’s ’40 hospitals’ pledge. Industry sources expect Labour to rebrand Boris Johnson’s controversial scheme, reports Ben Gartside and Alannah Francis.

Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting, left, says Labour is ‘committed to delivering’ the hospital-building programme – but Boris Johnson’s scheme could be rebranded

 Sport

Inside the Charlton Athletic talent factory producing England’s Euro hopefuls. As Joe Gomez and Ezri Konsa vie for a place on the plane to Germany, Kevin Garside visits the prolific academy that gave them their start in football.

Liverpool signed Joe Gomez from Charlton Athletic for £3.5m in 2015 (Photo: Getty)

 Something to brighten your day

7 easy ways to improve gut health – from eating potato salad to drinking water. More young adults are being diagnosed with cancer – and experts say our changing gut bacteria is to blame. Here are some easy science-backed ways to improve your microbiome.

Research has linked constipation with inflammatory bacteria in the gut – experts advise drinking little and often throughout the day (Photo: Getty)

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