Rishi Sunak is not a Conservative but a 'socialist', claims Reform's Richard Tice

Reform Party leader Richard Tice has branded Rishi Sunak a "socialist" as he predicted a "realignment" of the right at the next general election.

Mr Tice said Mr Sunak is "not a real Conservative" and instead argued the Tories are made up of "social democrats" and "socialists" because of "high taxes" and government spending.

The Reform leader, who has vowed to stand candidates in every seat across England, Scotland and Wales at the coming election, said Mr Sunak's policies made him a "con socialist" - a term he claimed to have coined himself.

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Last year a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson have overseen the largest set of tax rises since the Second World War - with the thinktank estimating the tax burden will have risen to around 37% of national income by the next election.

Speaking to Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips, Mr Tice said: "There's going to be a realignment of the right because the Conservative Party is not conservative. It's a party of social democrats and in some sense socialists, high taxes, high wasteful government spending."

He added: "I mean, frankly, Rishi Sunak is not a real conservative. He's raised taxes, he's raised spending, and growth has declined.

"It's a catastrophe and therefore it's a catastrophe for Britain. So there's going to be a realignment and Reform is going to be absolutely central within that."

Pressed on whether Mr Sunak was a "socialist", Mr Tice replied: "Yes, he is. He's raised taxes. He's raised government spending. He's led to lower growth. That's not conservatism. That is a form of socialism.

"And he is a con socialist. I invented this word. I'm very proud of it. It defines what he is."

Mr Tice, who took over from Nigel Farage as the head of Reform - formerly known as the Brexit Party - in 2021, has vowed to "punish" the Tories at the ballot box with threats of courting its voters and even some of its MPs.

Last month his party bagged the defection of Lee Anderson, the MP for Ashfield who served as a vice chair of the Tory Party, and has hinted more could be persuaded to join the party because of their dissatisfaction with the direction of the Conservatives.

Elsewhere in the interview with Trevor Phillips, Mr Tice was challenged about a claim made by Reform on its website that white people can be barred from applying for jobs.

Asked to provide a specific example, Mr Tice could not but said it was "all over social media".

Trevor Phillips pressed Mr Tice, saying: "You're not bringing social media as evidence to me. Come on. You're much smarter than that."

In response, Mr Tice claimed what he had seen was a "copy of an advert" before claiming that "diversity, equality and inclusion" were "driving down" productivity and performance and that "certain people are being positively discriminated against".

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Mr Tice denied that such thinking made the public see his party as "cranks", saying: "There's no evidence we're cranks, Trevor.

"We're going up in the polls. The Tories are sinking and that is because we have got a bold solution to save Britain.

"The country is absolutely broken and nothing Labour will do will get us growing again."

A Conservative Party source said: "A vote for Reform is a vote for Keir Starmer. Conservatives are cutting taxes, easing the path to net zero for hard-working people and standing up for drivers against Labour councils trying to turf them off the roads."