The woman who founded the Brexit Party

Catherine Blaiklock resigned from the Brexit Party (now Reform) in 2019 over her Islamophobic tweets. With her party surging in the polls, does she regret anything?

May 01, 2024
Illustration: John Watson
Illustration: John Watson

With the conviction of a Baptist preacher, Catherine Blaiklock proclaims: “Nothing works in this country. If we carry on as we are… we will do a Lebanon or a Venezuela.” It’s this zeal that led Blaikock to found the Brexit Party (since rebranded Reform) in late 2018. 

The party Blaiklock created and briefly led now trails the Tories by a mere 7 per cent in the polls, but she has not been able to enjoy this shift in fortunes. In March 2019, she resigned as her party’s first leader and was replaced by Nigel Farage after her Islamophobic tweets came to public attention. One read: “Islam = submission – mostly to raping women it seems”. She also shared posts propagating the Great Replacement conspiracy—which argues that an elite-led plot is trying to bring about the extinction of the white race. Blaiklock fell on her sword—apologising for her remarks in what she later termed a “Soviet-style confession”.

Blaiklock now has no involvement with Reform. But she still has much to say about our political landscape. If she led a party? “We wouldn’t talk about anything other than stopping immigration.” 

Blaiklock has argued baselessly that foodbanks created an “obese, dependent population”, and that crime and lower academic achievement among black men may have a biological basis. These ideas might come from the Victorian period, but Blaiklock is a very modern culture warrior.

Her first party was Ukip, which she joined in 2014 when it was at its zenith; Brexit, which she calls “a protest against globalisation”, was the lightning rod which really animated her politically. She soon climbed the party ladder, becoming economic spokesperson in 2018. But by late 2018, support for the party had collapsed and it had descended into internecine strife. Blaiklock jumped ship, along with Farage and other senior figures. Days later she founded the Brexit Party, becoming its leader and treasurer. Blaiklock, along with others, including Reform’s current leader, Richard Tice, were instrumental in assembling the party machinery. Its raison d’être, they decided, was to force a Brexit deal quickly.

The Brexit Party, as punishment for another extension of the Brexit deadline, put the Conservatives to the sword at the European elections in May 2019. They won 29 seats and became the biggest party. The Tories registered four.

Blaiklock is relatively impressed by the party’s direction since her departure. “I think it’s fine except for I don’t think it’s right on economic policy,” she says. She thinks the party’s famously strict “one-in, one-out” immigration policy was too lenient. “Let’s suppose we have another 20m in before Reform gets in… the housing crisis will just get unbelievable.” Does Reform have a chance of making a major electoral impact at the next election? “If Nigel comes back, yes, maybe.” 

Since leaving the Brexit Party, Blaiklock, now 61, has drifted into political obscurity. She lives in Norfolk, where she runs a guesthouse with her husband, a British Jamaican. (She once told Vice: “I sleep with somebody who is black, who is, you know, of Jamaican origin! So I am 100 per cent not racist.”) 

In 2022, she stood for the fringe English Democrat party in the byelection triggered by the murder of Conservative MP David Amess. Out of respect, all major opposition parties stood aside. She still ran, but finished fourth— behind a candidate from the Psychedelic Movement. Will she make another bid for Westminster in the upcoming election? “I don’t know at this point.”

Lee Anderson’s defection means Reform now has its first MP. It’s surging in the polls, gnawing into Conservative support. If she hadn’t tweeted, she might still be a powerful figure in the party. Does she regret her comments?

Her inner Baptist preacher is channelled again. “No. No. No. At some point, if anybody says something they must have thought it... The problem with the world is, nobody says what they think.”