Nigel Farage Teases Tories That He Could Lead The Party In Three Years
Nigel Farage in August 2023 (Alamy)
Former UKIP and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has dangled the prospect of becoming leader of the Conservatives within three years – if the party would readmit him.
“I’d be very surprised if I were not Conservative leader by ‘26. Very surprised,” Farage told PoliticsHome at the launch of Lord Ashcroft‘s biography of the Prime Minister: All To Play For: The Advance of Rishi Sunak in Westminster on Tuesday, which was attended by a number of Conservative MPs.
“They think I’m joking," he added, referring to fellow attendees. "I’m serious.”
Farage later told PoliticsHome that his prediction was in fact made "in jest", but believed resistance among some Tories to welcome him into the tent was hypocritical given Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had hinted at Conservative conference earlier this month that he could be readmitted to the party. "I welcome lots of people who want to subscribe to our ideals, to our values,” Sunak said at the time.
Conservative Party chairman Greg Hands was highly dismissive of the prospect of Farage as Tory leader. “First of all there is no vacancy, and secondly I would be extremely surprised if Nigel Farage were ever to be Conservative leader," he said. “There are no plans to allow him into the party and he has not applied.”
While Farage does not currently have any serious intention of positioning himself as a future Conservative leader, he was dismayed by the party's reaction to the prospect.
“Am I still banned? Well, there you are. It’s very contradictory. Rishi said it’s a broad church. I must slink back into my hole, mustn’t I?," he told PoliticsHome on Wednesday.
"I was saying it in jest but the puritan, Cromwellian response tells me all I need to know. I’m sure many people at conference wouldn’t be happy with that.”
During Labour party conference in Liverpool last week, Emily Thornberry predicted on the PoliticsHome podcast The Rundown that Farage could become leader of the Conservative Party.
"If Nigel Farage is allowed into the Tory party, which looks like he will be, and if he's then given a seat, then he could end up being leader of the Conservative Party," said Thornberry.
George Osborne, the former chancellor, has also suggested – on his own podcast, Political Currency – that Farage could rejoin the party and go on to be elected as leader by the membership.
Farage was a Conservative Party member until he left in 1992 over the Maastricht Treaty, later becoming a UKIP MEP and in 2006 UKIP leader. He is currently the Honorary President of Reform UK, which is led by Richard Tice.
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