Conservative Party conference: David Cameron welcomes Ukip members' support

Nigel Farage caused a stir by suggesting that Tory associations might forge deals with his party at a local level

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Indy Politics

David Cameron has ruled out electoral pacts or deals with the UK Independence Party in the 2015 general election, but said he would welcome support from the eurosceptic party's members.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage caused a stir at the Conservative conference in Manchester yesterday by suggesting that Tory associations might forge deals with his party at a local level to run "joint-badge" candidates in specific constituencies.

But the Prime Minister insisted that voters who want an in/out referendum on Britain's EU membership can secure it only by electing a Conservative majority government.

In a round of TV interviews in Manchester, he suggested instead that Ukip supporters should consider switching to the Tories

"I don't want to see deals or pacts," Mr Cameron told ITV1's Daybreak.

"Of course, if local Ukip supporters or candidates want to support the local Conservative candidate because that's the only way you can be guaranteed an in/out referendum in Europe, the only way you can continue with getting immigration down, the only way you can continue with vital welfare reform, then of course I would welcome that."

Mr Farage received a rousing welcome at a set of meetings on the fringe of the Tory conference as he urged Conservative voters to back his party in next year's European elections.

Only the "earthquake" of his party winning the 2014 poll would be enough to ensure there would be a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union, he said.

Mr Farage emphatically ruled out any formal deal with the Tories but held the door open to individual Conservative MPs to make agreements locally to stand on joint tickets.

He claimed there are "a couple of dozen" such MPs with whom his party could come to an agreement at a local level and said they had already held informal discussions with a "handful" of them.

To loud applause, the Ukip leader said: "There isn't going to be a deal between us and the Conservative Party at the next general election.

"Our voters wouldn't want it and it would not be in the national interest to put Mr Cameron back in office when he believes in continued membership of the European Union.

"If conversations take place at a local level with sitting Members of Parliament who want the support of a local Ukip branch and intend to run on a joint ticket, I am open-minded to that because getting those MPs back into Westminster probably would be in the national interest."