Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Nigel Farage rules out return to the Tory party: ‘It’s virtually indistinguishable from Labour’

Nigel Farage rebuffed Rishi Sunak’s suggestion that the former Brexit leader might be welcome back: “It’s very, very sweet of you Prime Minister but I’m really sorry, the answer is no, I will not”

Archie Mitchell
Saturday 07 October 2023 15:07 BST
Priti Patel dances with Nigel Farage at Conservative Party conference

Nigel Farage has ruled out a return to the Tory party, claiming it is "virtually indistinguishable" from Labour.

The former Brexit Party leader, who quit the Conservative Party in 1992 after John Major signed the Maastricht Treaty, said it has become "a social democrat party in all but name" with "big-state, high-tax" policies.

And, addressing Rishi Sunak, who indicated he would welcome Mr Farage back into the Conservatives, he said: “It’s very, very sweet of you Prime Minister but I’m really sorry, the answer is no, I will not.”

It comes after Mr Sunak described the Tories as a “very broad church” when asked about Mr Farage’s membership prospects.

Mr Sunak added to GB News: “I welcome lots of people who want to subscribe to our ideals, to our values.”

At the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Mr Farage was given a warm welcome by activists and some MPs, including being seen dancing with former home secretary Priti Patel.

Former Tory chancellor George Osborne said Mr Farage could be a future Conservative leader because of the party’s shift to the right.

Although Conservative Party chairman Greg Hands said he would not welcome Mr Farage back into the party, because “he’s repeatedly for the last 30 years or more advocated voting for other political parties”.

The Brexit Party, since renamed as Reform UK, is holding its own party conference today. Addressing activists, Mr Farage said there is a "gap in the political market" for Reform UK to fill, insisting it was "taking back the word Brexit" from the Conservative Party.

"This party has been bubbling away quietly just under the radar," he said, likening it to Ukip’s position in 2012.

Mr Osborne warned that Mr Farage – having pushed the Conservatives to the right during the Brexit wars – could create “Farage-ism” inside the Tories as the party shifts further to the right.

“He’s a sort of Pied Piper character and he is leading the Tory party to his merry tune – again. You would have thought they would have learned their lesson,” he said on his Political Currency podcast.

“If Nigel Farage was given membership of the Conservative party … then you have opened the door to Farage-ism inside the Tory party, not led by his proxies but by Farage himself,” said Mr Osborne.

The former chancellor added: “It’s not inconceivable that if the Conservative party lost the general election, and if Nigel Farage had rejoined as a Tory party member … then he could be a potential future leader of the Conservative party.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in