A Tory Party row has broken out with senior MPs debating whether Nigel Farage should be allowed back into the Conservatives.
Mr Farage has been a huge presence at this year’s gathering, returning to a Tory conference for the first part in decades.
The former Ukip and Brexit Party leader has been filmed socialising with Tory big beasts like Liz Truss and Dame Priti Patel, even dancing and singing with MPs at last night’s GB News party.
Debating whether he should be allowed to return to the Tory fold, Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg asserted that Mr Farage “is broadly a Tory and always has been”.
He said: “I’m a friend of Nigel’s, I think he’s a very effective campaigner and I think most of his political views are views I share.
“If he wanted to join I can’t think his membership would be refused.”
However Tory Party chairman Greg Hands immediately said “I don’t think I would” want Nigel Farage to join his party.
He said: “I think he’s most recently been advocating voting for another political party, that is not consistent with being a member of the Conservative Party.
“He’s repeatedly for the last 30 years or more advocated voting for other political parties. I think he’s said he doesn’t want to see the Conservative Party succeed.”
Mr Rees-Mogg immediately pointed out that the Tories would welcome any Labour MP who wanted to cross the floor, regardless of who they previously advocated for at a General Election.
Asked by GB News whether he would welcome the Brexit supremo back into the Tories, Rishi Sunak left open the possibility he would.
The PM told Mr Farage’s news channel: “I welcome lots of people who want to subscribe to our ideals, to our values.”
Pressed whether that would extend to Mr Farage, he said: “Look, the thing I care about is delivering for the country and the more people as we’ve seen at this conference – we’ve had record attendance I think at this conference. Lots of energy, lots of engagement.”
Responding to the PM’s interview, Mr Farage said it was “a great question”.
He said: “Before I arrived here yesterday, people were asking ‘will they even let you in through the front door?’ and now you’re asking will he let me in the party!”
Asked whether he’d be open to joining the party, Mr Farage said: “What party? Why would I want to join a party that’s put the tax rate up to the highest in over 70 years, that’s allowed net migration to run at over half a million a year, that has not used Brexit to deregulate and help small businesses, no no and no!”
He said that what he’s seeing at this year’s Tory conference is arguments he’s been making for years, including ECHR and Net Zero.
Mr Farage said a wing of the Tory party is now echoing his arguments, and half the party would welcome him but half would not.