Tory peer Peter Cruddas shared posts supporting Nigel Farage and Reform UK

A Tory peer and former party donor has shared dozens of social media posts supportive of Nigel Farage and Reform UK.

During the course of the election campaign Peter Cruddas, the billionaire Tory donor who was controversially ennobled by Boris Johnson, has reposted a string of material calling on voters to back Farage and his party.

Analysis by the Guardian shows that of Cruddas’s last 100 reposts on X, 48 were supportive of Reform UK and Farage and a further 12 were broadly critical of the Conservative party and government.

The material reposted by Cruddas in the past three days included a post by Arron Banks claiming “anyone left supporting the Conservative party isn’t patriotic” and one by an X user saying: “If every Reform voter can convince just one other person to switch from Lib/Lab/Con to Reform then they will win a landslide. It’s a matter of duty for us all.”

In a statement to the Guardian, Cruddas said: “Retweets are not considered in law to be an endorsement of the content. I am disseminating news around upcoming elections. I am trying to give a balanced view of what is going on. I have also retweeted a lot to support the Conservative party.”

Of Cruddas’s most recent 100 reposts on X analysed by the Guardian, none were supportive of the Tories. One was a social media poll in which a clear majority of respondents said Farage should be made prime minister.

Ordinarily, endorsing a rival party would lead to suspension of the Tory whip. The Conservative party and whips’ office did not respond to a request for comment.

Under the Conservative party’s code of conduct, members are prevented from “helping political opponents” or being associated “with any other registered political party”. Doing so is “an automatic disciplinary offence and if proved is likely to result in their expulsion from the party”, the code says.

Cruddas reposted material saying “if you voted brexit vote reform we will finish the job” and several positive endorsements of Farage’s policies and his performance in debates.

A former Tory MP said: “If Lord Cruddas had any decency he’d resign the whip and defect officially to Reform. He’s either in or out of the Conservative party and his tweets suggest he’s out and Reform are welcome to him.”

Cruddas’s social media feed demonstrates the bitter divisions among the Conservatives. He has reposted several attacks on David Cameron, including a Telegraph op-ed where Farage says of the former prime minister: “Smug, complacent, and snobby, he has convinced me I was right to offer Britain a stronger alternative to a hopeless Tory opposition.”

Last week Cameron accused Farage of trying to destroy the Conservative party. In an interview with the Times, the foreign secretary accused Farage of “dog whistle” politics and urged voters to reject his “inflammatory language and hopeless policy”.

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Rishi Sunak and other cabinet ministers have been more reluctant to attack Reform UK for fear of alienating Tory voters who are sympathetic to Farage and unleashing a fresh round of internecine warfare. One poll last week put Reform one point ahead of the Conservatives.

Michael Gove told Times Radio on Monday that “Reform is a giant ego trip, not a serious programme of alternative change”.

Lucy Allan, who is standing down as the Conservative MP for Telford, was suspended after telling voters in her constituency to vote Reform. Andrea Jenkyns, who is seeking re-election as a Conservative MP, has come under fire for featuring a picture of herself and Farage on her leaflets.

Farage is popular with a sizable section of the Tory grassroots membership, including members of the Conservative Democratic Organisation (CDO) which Cruddas is president of. The CDO was founded by disgruntled Tories after Johnson and then Liz Truss were removed.

Last year Cruddas urged donors to stop giving money to the Conservative party unless members were given a greater say in how it was run.


Updated: Juni 17, 2024 — 4:19 pm

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