NIGEL Farage has set out his goal for Reform UK to effectively take over the Conservative Party – and potentially put him in No 10.

The veteran Eurosceptic, now installed as Reform UK leader and seeking to win the Clacton seat at the General Election, suggested a “chunk” of the Conservatives could join his party.

He compared the situation to Canadian politics, where Stephen Harper had been elected as a Reform MP but went on to head a “new Conservative” government.

Mr Farage on Monday U-turned on his previous suggestion he would not stand in this General Election, opting to fight in Clacton and being installed as Reform leader in place of Richard Tice.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette: Mr Farage announced he was standing for election in Clacton at a press conference on MondayMr Farage announced he was standing for election in Clacton at a press conference on Monday (Image: PA)

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He had previously suggested he could be open to talks with the Tories, but suggested he could not work with them in their current form.

Instead, he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain his goal was to take over the Conservative Party, rather than join it.

“You can speculate as to what’ll happen in three or four years’ time, all I will tell you is if Reform succeed in the way that I think they can, then a chunk of the Conservative Party will join us – it’s the other way around,” he said.

He pointed to Canada, where “Reform did a reverse takeover of the Conservative Party, rebranded it and Stephen Harper – who was elected as a Reform MP – became the Canadian prime minister for 10 years”.

He said: “I don’t want to join the Conservative Party, I think the better thing to do would be to take it over.”

Mr Farage’s return to the political fray came as Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer prepared for their first televised showdown of the campaign at 9pm on ITV.

The Tories appear on course for a heavy defeat on July 4, according to projections by pollsters, with YouGov suggesting they could be reduced to just 140 seats.

Home Secretary James Cleverly told Sky News the only poll that mattered was on July 4, but added: “If you are asking ‘would I prefer going into the last few weeks of this election campaign with the polls in our favour?’, of course I would prefer that.”

He insisted people were “completely unconvinced by Labour” and Sir Keir.

“At these turbulent times, handing control of the country to a man who doesn’t even really seem to be in control of his own shadow cabinet is probably not a good idea.”

And he sought to play down the impact of Mr Farage’s decision to stand, which could further erode Conservative support.

“The last time I heard him make reference to Clacton, he was saying that he didn’t want to spend every Friday in Clacton,” Mr Cleverly told Sky News.

“Reform has always been a vehicle for Nigel Farage’s self-promotion. I think Richard Tice is now discovering that rather painfully.”

Labour was using day 13 of the campaign to highlight plans to reduce reliance on fossil fuel from overseas.

The Labour leader claimed his party’s plan to set up a publicly-owned clean energy company, GB Energy, will help to protect the UK from spikes in the price of fuel like those that followed Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

He said: “Keeping the lights on and heating our homes should not mean leaving our front door open to Russia.”

The party said the firm will be headquartered in Scotland and funded through a windfall tax on big oil and gas firms, with an initial £8.3billion capitalisation over the course of a parliament.

However, the Scottish Conservatives claimed “reckless plans” from Labour and the SNP on oil and gas mean the “entire economy” in north-east Scotland is “on the line” in the General Election.

Party leader Douglas Ross raised fears that both parties plan to halt new oil and gas developments, saying this would “turn off the taps in the North Sea”.

The Conservatives are proposing an annual cap on worker and family visas in their efforts to ensure immigration figures fall year on year in a future parliament.

The proposed plan would give Parliament a direct role in setting levels of migration, with MPs having a vote on the number.

Mr Sunak said: “We have taken bold action to cut the number of people coming to this country. The plan is working, but migration levels are still too high, so we are going further.”

The annual cap would be imposed on the number of visas that can be granted to those coming to the UK on work or family routes.

Temporary work routes, such as seasonal agricultural workers, would not fall within the cap.

The Liberal Democrats said that day-to-day care for adults in need, including the elderly and disabled, would be free in England if they were in power.

Sir Ed Davey said: “As a carer for my disabled son, and after caring for my ill mother when I was young, care is deeply personal for me.”