Nigel Farage has said he is “confident” Reform UK will be second in the opinion polls by next week at a General Election campaign event in Clacton.

It came a day after the party leader said he wanted Reform to establish a “bridgehead” in Parliament with a view to a full assault at a 2029 general election and himself in No 10.

Mr Farage received a standing ovation from hundreds of voters at a campaign event at the Princes Theatre on Tuesday evening as he entered the auditorium to Eminem’s hit Without Me.

Dozens of attendees queued outside the theatre before the doors opened and the 826-seat venue was almost full by the time Mr Farage took to the stage.

Speaking on stage between two Union flags, the Reform UK leader said: “Something very exciting is going on.

“We are even or just ahead of the Conservative Party in the opinion polls.”

He added: “We will, I’m quite confident, by early next week clearly be in second place in the opinion polls.

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage with his hands in the air after speaking at Princes Theatre in Clacton
Reform UK leader Nigel Farage after speaking at Princes Theatre in Clacton (Ian West/PA)

“And this matters – and it matters because for democracy to function, you need to have opposition.”

Mr Farage continued: “Establishing that bridgehead in Parliament, are we going to do it? We are going to do it.

“Be in no doubt and then spend the next five years getting ready to fight the 2029 general election as a party that believes it could win that general election and put our policy, put our country back on track. That’s the aim.”

During his speech, Mr Farage criticised former prime ministers Tony Blair, David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson for failing to lower migration levels during their time in office.

He also took aim at Rishi Sunak for his record on migration, branding the Prime Minister “slippery Sunak”, and Sir Keir Starmer, calling the Labour leader “one of the most boring people we’ve ever seen in public life”.

At the end of his speech, Mr Farage announced that four local councillors for the Clacton area were joining Reform UK.

Jeff Bray, Peter Harris, Richard Everett and James Codling joined Mr Farage on stage sporting Reform UK rosettes.

The audience listens to Reform UK leader Nigel Farage speaking at Princes Theatre in Clacton
The audience listens to Reform UK leader Nigel Farage speaking at Princes Theatre in Clacton (Ian West/PA)

At the end of the event, Mr Farage received a second standing ovation and posed on stage for a photograph with the audience holding posters reading “Nigel Farage for Clacton”.

Speaking outside the theatre before the event, Green Party candidate for Clacton Natasha Osben said Mr Farage was “exploiting” the constituency and “preying” on voters who have become disillusioned with politics.

“He really is opportunistically preying on the fact that in this constituency people are disillusioned, they’re disenfranchised, they’re fed up with Labour, they’re fed up with the Conservatives,” she said.

“I think that Labour has a lot of responsibility if Farage gets in here because they have contributed to this idea that there’s no real difference between the two main parties and so this will be a protest vote, but it will be a protest vote that costs us gravely.”

Ms Osben added: “He’s literally exploiting the constituency, because he sees it as an opportunity to win his eighth attempt at becoming an MP.

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage screws up his face at Princes Theatre in Clacton
Reform UK leader Nigel Farage speaking at Princes Theatre in Clacton (Ian West/PA)

“That’s what he cares about, his own political career, and he’s using our constituency to achieve that.”

A poll of almost 20,000 people, published on Tuesday, suggested that Mr Farage is on course to win the seat in Clacton and that the Conservatives are facing their worst result ever.

The Ipsos poll estimated Labour would win 43% of the vote and secure 453 seats, giving it a majority of 256 and reducing the Conservatives to just 115 seats.

It also estimated Reform UK would pick up Lee Anderson’s Ashfield constituency and possibly one other seat with 12% of the national vote.