Surprise as Ukip leader Nigel Farage dines with Rupert Murdoch

Dinner with media mogul Rupert Murdoch seen as a symbol of the growing influence of the anti-EU party

UK Independence leader Nigel Farage had dinner with media mogul Rupert Murdoch after the party's strong showing in the Eastleigh by-election - in what was reported to be the pair's first such meeting.

They ate at the News Corp chief's London home on Tuesday, five days after Ukip pushed the Tories into third place and fell not far short of a shock victory, the Daily Telegraph said.

It will be seen as a symbol of the growing influence of the anti-EU party on British politics, with Mr Murdoch subsequently declaring that Mr Farage was “reflecting opinion”.

The newspaper said Mr Farage, who did not last night deny the meeting but declined to comment further, had repeated his willingness to strike an electoral pact with the Tories in 2015 if Prime Minister David Cameron is ousted as leader.

Mr Murdoch took to Twitter last night with political observations about his European visits this week - drawing parallels between the UK and Italy.

“Politics both places very fluid, economies going nowhere. New leaders emerging on distant horizon,” he wrote in one post.

“Stagnant Europe wracked by discontent and resentment of EU. Glad we contributed to UK resisting the Euro over many years,

“Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, few excellent, frustrated ministers.

“Farage reflecting opinion.”