Ukip chairman: An leaving the EU would damage us

Britain leaving the European Union could be damaging to Ukip's political fortunes, party chairman Steve Crowther has admitted.

The frank admission is a sign the party is wrestling with the possible effects an in/out referendum on Europe would have on the eurosceptic party's support.

Asked if Ukip members might revert to the Conservative party should Britain leave the EU, Crowther conceded it would be inevitable.

"Oh I think there will be some," he told politics.co.uk. "But again it's a mistake to say Ukip is comprised of dormant, sleeper conservatives".

"There are a lot of people who were Conservatives and would never go back – of which I am one. But there are also people who were staunch Labour voters all their lives but are now fully committed to Ukip."

Crowther also talked down the possibility of a Tory/Ukip pact at the next election, saying that there was no chance of a deal as long as David Cameron is prime minister.

"He has a visceral attitude towards Ukip, he has been grossly insulting to us repeatedly so I don't think we're very interested in having a pact with him at all," he added.

Ukip was the subject of sympathetic coverage last month when two of its members in Rotherham were barred from fostering eastern European children because of the party's policies on immigration. They finished a strong second in a by-election in the town shortly afterwards.