Farage would be welcome to rejoin ‘broad church’ Tories, says Sunak

Nigel Farage is currently appearing on I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!
Nigel Farage is currently appearing on I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! - ITV/Shutterstock

Rishi Sunak suggested Nigel Farage would be welcome to rejoin the Conservatives, insisting the party was a “broad church”.

Mr Farage left the Tories in 1992 after the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, which laid the foundation for shared judicial and foreign policies among EU members.

He went on to play a prominent role in campaigning for Britain’s departure from the EU as the leader of Ukip and then the Brexit Party.

Mr Farage, currently appearing on I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!, is the honorary president of Reform UK, the insurgent Right-wing party currently polling at almost 10 per cent.

The Tories are at around 25 per cent, almost 20 points behind Labour.

Asked about a plea from Stanley Johnson, the father of former prime minister Boris Johnson, for the Conservatives to “open their arms” to Mr Farage, Mr Sunak replied: “Our party has always been a broad church.

“But my focus is consistently on delivering on the things that matter to people. I set out a set of priorities at the beginning of the year, and we have just had the Autumn Statement that delivered on those.”

Pointing to a halving of the headline rate of inflation since the start of the year and illegal Channel migrant crossings falling by a third, he added: “My view is to keep doing the things that matter to people, keep showing we make a difference to their lives.”

Last week, Stanley Johnson argued that Mr Farage could help the Conservatives retain Red Wall seats they won for the first time in the 2019 election.

“The Conservatives have to open their arms to Nigel,” he told GB News. “I think we cannot afford to have a man of that talent not in our camp at the next election.”

Reform UK, led by Richard Tice, has promised to stand candidates in all constituencies at the next election, saying the Conservatives must be “punished” for their record in office.

This is in contrast to the 2019 election, when Mr Farage stood down Brexit Party candidates in key marginal constituencies to avoid splitting voters wanting to deliver on the vote to leave Europe.

Speculation that Mr Farage could rejoin the Conservatives was fuelled by his appearance at a number of fringe events at the party’s annual conference in October.