Alexandra Phillips: The new female face of Reform UK
Listen to Christopher Hope's interview with Alexandra Phillips on this week's edition of Choppers Politics Podcast:
A lorry driver's step-daughter has been unveiled as the new female face of Reform UK to win back Red Wall Brexiteers with a pledge to hold the Conservative party's feet to the fire so that "its skin crackles".
Alexandra Phillips has been appointed to advise leader Richard Tice and be a key face of the party as it seeks to win votes and put pressure on Rishi Sunak's Conservatives.
Ms Phillips was a key figure in Nigel Farage's Brexit Party, representing the party in the European Parliament after the 2019 euro elections, and before that a former staffer with the UK Independence Party.
In an interview with Chopper's Politics Podcast, Ms Phillips - who is still a Conservative party member - said the Reform Party represented "an electoral or existential threat" to the Tories "in their own backyard".
Her defection to Reform comes after Tory councillor David White quit as South Yorkshire Area Chairman for the Conservative Party to stand for Reform in Barnsley at the next election.
She said that she hoped that the right of centre tax-cutting policies of the Reform Party - which include lifting the taxfree threshold to £20,000 a year - will "prod the Conservative Party into being Conservative".
Confirming that she will stand to be a Reform candidate at the next general election, expected next year, she said: "They've got a monopoly on the Right-wing of politics, which I think makes them quite complacent.
"The Conservative Party is a coalition, and I don't know which Conservative Party I am getting at any moment.
"If I want the Conservative Party that I want, that I think a lot of Telegraph readers want, then it needs something to hold their feet to the fire until their skin crackles. And that is something that Reform can do.
"There's huge disillusionment with the Conservative Party. People don't know what the Conservative Party is. We've had a year of psychodrama, three different prime ministers, constant tugs of war.
"This is a party that's been in office for 12 years. It was a party with an 80-seat majority. There should be a legacy by now. And I don't know what it is."
She added: "I'm going to now throw all of my weight behind Reform, a progression of the Brexit Party. It's doing fantastically well in the polls.
"It's doing lots of stuff, but it hasn't really sort of broken through. It's not pushing an agenda heavily on television and in the newspapers yet."
Ms Phillips, 39, was brought up in Gloucester and worked at ITV after university before a short spell at the BBC. She eventually quit and took a staff job working for Ukip when its leader was Nigel Farage.
Her step-father Johnny, 70, started double-decker buses for British holidaymakers on the Continent. He gained an HGV licence and moved onto car transporters in the 1980s, before retiring five years ago.
Reform's appeal is aimed squarely at picking off disaffected Conservative supporters and channelling the rage which led to the decision of Britons to vote to leave the European Union in 2016.
Ms Phillips said she would help Reform appeal to working-class areas where people feel that the Government has failed to deliver Brexit.
She said: "It's those Brexit-backing areas. It's those constituencies which are predominantly working-class. That's my background. I'm a lorry driver's daughter.
"That is where I feel most comfortable, representing people who frankly look like me, act like me, think like me, and are massively under-represented in politics."
Reform polling at 7 per cent
Ms Phillips said Reform - which is polling at 7 per cent - was well-placed to pick up support among Labour and Conservative voters.
Policies include cutting taxes for businesses, more open cast mines and helping former members of the Armed Forces back into work in leadership positions such as becoming Chief Constables.
She said: "When you look at the polling, there's a real appetite for something else. I think a lot of the support being thrown behind Labour isn't genuine support.
"When it comes to the ballot box, people find out that there's a lot of 'shy Labour' voters out there and people who don't want to commit to whatever it is Starmer has in mind."
Ms Phillips said she had still not resigned from the Conservatives. "It gives me an inside track on what they're doing if they want to keep the emails coming and the membership of the WhatsApp groups," she said.
"The last time I went through this relationship with the Conservative Party was early Theresa May, and I was really impressed by her, she said all of my favourite buzzwords: grammar schools, fracking, Brexit. She's going to do it. And then within weeks it was falling apart."
Ms Phillips denied that voting for the Reform Party was a wasted protest vote. "Voters have been locked in protest for over a decade now and no one's listening," she said.
"Populism has become a dirty word, but actually populism is democracy. Populism is listening to what people want and saying we're going to do that."
Listen to the full interview with Jeremy Hunt on Chopper’s Politics, The Telegraph’s weekly political podcast, using the audio player in this article or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast app