Farage: I'll form 'pact' with Tories if Cameron steps down
UKIP leader's growing political clout highlighted by first Murdoch meeting and increasing press scrutiny
UKIP leader Nigel Farage is willing to form an “electoral pact” with the Tory party to contest the 2015 election, but only if David Cameron steps down first, the Daily Telegraph reports.
News of the proposed pact – which “well-placed sources” say was discussed at a meeting between Farage and Rupert Murdoch at the media tycoon’s London flat on Tuesday evening – puts extra pressure on the PM. But the Telegraph exclusive also highlights how UKIP’s political stocks have soared after it shocked Tories by beating them into third place in the Eastleigh by-election.
The Telegraph’s political editor, Robert Winnett, is in no doubt that the first meeting between Murdoch and Farage “underlines the growing political influence of the fringe party”. He says Murdoch is broadly supportive of Farage’s anti-EU views and backing for new grammar schools, but is “more sceptical” about his calls for tighter border controls to stem immigration.
Farage is understood to have told Murdoch that he hopes to win half of the seats in next year’s European election. After that, UKIP will seek to “join forces” with the Tories to oppose Labour at the 2015 general election, says Winnett. But Farage will only do so if Cameron – a man he “distrusts” and who has labelled UKIP as “fruitcakes” and “closet racists” – is replaced.
As Farage and his party bolster their position in the political landscape, they are certain to come under closer press scrutiny. There was some evidence of that today when The Guardian ran the story that Farage had been accused of putting pressure on two MEPs to “break European rules” as he sought to gain tens of thousands of pounds in taxpayers' money for his party.
Nikki Sinclaire, MEP for the West Midlands, told the paper the UKIP leader had told her he needed her support to gain access to the extra funds and threatened to “destroy her political reputation” if it was not forthcoming.
A second MEP, Marta Andreasen, claims she was asked by Farage to secure an assistant for his 2010 general election campaign using money from Brussels, in breach of strict EU regulations. The Guardian acknowledged that both women were former UKIP members and that Sinclaire had left the party “after clashing with the leadership”.
A UKIP spokesman told the Guardian: "We do not respond to vexatious allegations of this kind from our political opponents."