Sir John Hall: Major Tory donor and former Newcastle United owner defects to Reform UK

A Conservative donor who gave more than £500,000 to the party has defected to Reform UK.

Sir John Hall, the former Newcastle United owner, joined Reform UK leader Nigel Farage at an election rally in Durham on Thursday to announce his support for the party.

Mr Farage said the miner's son, who helped fund Theresa May's 2017 election bid, had given Reform UK a donation, but did not confirm how much.

He thanked Sir John "for coming out so publicly for us" and said the property developer was a "major success story, a role model".

The 91-year-old has donated more than £500,000 to the Conservative Party and helped fund Mrs May's 2017 snap general election.

In May 2017, he gave £25,000 to the Conservative Party but in February 2018 he expressed disapproval over Mrs May's "indecisiveness" over Brexit and her lack of domestic policies.

Read more:

Reform dominating social media during campaign

Sir John's company was behind the construction of the MetroCentre shopping mall in Gateshead in the 1980s.

He bought Woolsington Hall, northwest of Newcastle, where he has several developments, including a football academy and a luxury hotel with golf course.

Sir John also owns Wynyard Park, a large 19th Century country house in County Durham he spent £4m restoring and is now a special-event venue with an additional 800 properties he had built.

Read more:

Sky News' poll tracker
Hunt donated £32,000 to local party

Reform UK's multi-millionaire chairman, Richard Tice, was also a long-time Tory donor, until 2019 when he helped found the Brexit Party, which later became Reform UK.

In March, ex-Conservative Party deputy chairman Lee Anderson became another defector to Reform UK.

And Lucy Allan, who was the Tory MP for Telford, quit the Conservatives after she was suspended for supporting the Reform candidate in her constituency.

Reform UK has seen its support rise rapidly over the campaign, with the latest average of all polls putting Reform UK on 15% of the vote, behind the Conservatives on 23% and Labour on 39%.