I’ll have a chat if Boris Johnson gets in touch, says Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage said there was 'not a cat’s chance in hell' of joining the Tories under Rishi Sunak - Julian Simmonds for The Telegraph

Nigel Farage has hinted that he could join the Conservatives if there was a change of leader and said he would “have a chat” if Boris Johnson called him.

The former Ukip leader said there was “not a cat’s chance in hell” of joining the Tories under Rishi Sunak, but left the door open to a possible return to the party he left in 1992.

He said he had not yet decided whether to stand as a candidate at the next general election but claimed his current party, Reform UK, is almost neck and neck with the Tories in some areas.

Mr Farage, who came third on the ITV reality show I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! said the Conservatives were “headed for electoral catastrophe” and “haven’t got a clue what is about to befall them”.

Speaking to The Telegraph from Australia after leaving the jungle, he said: “Would I stand for the Conservative Party at the next election? Under this leadership, not a cat’s chance in hell.

“Would I stand for a party that’s put the tax burden up to the highest level since 1951, whose new legal net migration figures stand at 745,000, which never believed in Brexit but used it purely opportunely to win an election, that locked us down for a third lockdown completely unnecessarily and caused calamitous harm to the mental health of our young, the physical health of our old, and damaged the NHS?”

He did not say under whose leadership he might be prepared to rejoin the Tories, but added: “I’ve got 6,000 messages. If there is one from Boris I’ll find it in a minute and I might give him a ring.

“I don’t know whether Boris has reached out. If Boris has reached out and we really believed that the role of government was to get out of the way and let men and women set up their businesses and create wealth and do well, then I’ll have a chat with him.

“I think the whole axis of government has moved towards state controls… but when it comes to politics, never say never.

“I’ve never, ever wanted in politics to have a job for a title or a rank or a position. I only joined politics all those years ago to make change. Brexit was a fundamental constitutional change – if I’m going to do it again I would have to believe that I could be the instigator of real change in a country that I think is in some ways almost becoming sclerotic.

“And I don’t see at the minute how I would do that between now and the next general election.”

Mr Farage said he believed things would get far worse for the Conservatives before they got better, but offered a hint that he might be considering coming to the rescue when the party reaches its nadir.

He said: “Their chaos hasn’t even started – this is only the beginning. When you’re buying shares, shares fall in a company as confidence collapses, and it’s always best to buy shares in a company when they reach a low point. And at the moment it’s nowhere near.”

Asked whether he would he buy shares in the Conservative Party when they hit rock bottom, he said: “I like things very cheap.”

Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary, claimed on Monday morning that Reform UK did not present a threat to the Conservatives’ chances of winning the next election, to which Mr Farage responded: “The word cretin springs to mind.

“I think you’ll find that Reform are at the highest level they’ve ever been. I’m also told, through private polling, that in the Red Wall, Reform are almost neck and neck with the Conservative Party. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Grant Shapps.”

Mr Farage, 59, described Mr Sunak’s Rwanda plan as “a total cop-out”, saying: “This man is floundering, he’s out of his depth and maybe tomorrow the back benches will send him under the water [when MPs vote on the Rwanda Bill].

“If I was a Tory backbencher and I believed in keeping the election promises made in four successive general elections, I would vote against my leader tomorrow. I very much hope his plan goes under tomorrow – it stands for nothing, it isn’t going to work.

“The real problem we’ve got – and nobody wants to face this – is that we are suffering a population crisis the likes of which our islands have never seen. You cannot allow, particularly after the Brexit vote, legal net migration now to be pushing up towards a million people every year and expect people to get GP appointments and houses, travel on the M6 or the M25.

“It’s just impossible, and what’s happening is the quality of life of everybody is being diminished by the population crisis, nobody will address it, Labour are terrified of it, the Conservatives are pretending it’s not happening.

“I think the disconnect between Westminster and the country is bigger on this than it was before the Brexit referendum. The next election will be about immigration, about numbers, and it will be for many years to come.”