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Eighth time lucky for hungry hound Farage. Now Labour and Tories must find a way to defang him | Samuel Earle

The Reform UK leader will cause division and mayhem in parliament. Unchecked, he will cast a dark shadow over our politics

The chorus to Nigel Farage’s triumphant election campaign was Eminem’s line “Guess who’s back?”, but many Tories will feel as if he never went away. Like a pesky hound, he has gnawed at their ankles throughout their time in government. They tried various strategies: ignoring him, insulting him and throwing him bones – a referendum, a resignation, a new leader, a policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda. But rather than stop or sate him, these methods only made him stronger and louder, his appetite more ravenous. Now, as their parting treat, the Tories have helped Farage achieve what every dog dreams of: a seat at the table. Farage is going to Westminster. Eighth time lucky.

Farage secured Clacton-on-Sea with 46% of the vote, one of four seats won on the night. It’s a historic achievement, and not only in the context of his previous seven failed attempts (the first dating back to 1994 in which he received roughly the same as Screaming Lord Sutch of the Monster Raving Loony party – less than 2% of the vote). That this comes on the back of the Tories’ worst ever election performance is no coincidence. A mutation on the right – foreshadowed by the rise of politicians like Suella Braverman and Miriam Cates – is under way.

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