Jacob Rees-Mogg: Nigel Farage should be welcomed back into the Conservative party
Jacob Rees-Mogg has said he would welcome Nigel Farage and “reasonable” former Ukip members back into the Conservative party.
The prominent Tory MP said it would be “very good news” if the more moderate elements of Ukip could reunite with the Conservatives.
But he warned that it could be “a little bit early” to welcome the former Ukip boss back into the Tory fold - and “perhaps a little bit more purdah is required”.
Mr Farage quit Ukip in protest late last year after current leader Gerard Batten formed an alliance with anti-Islam campaigner Tommy Robinson and made him a political advisor.
The Brexit big beast, who helped Ukip to win 4 million votes at the 2015 election and arguably secured the 2016 EU referendum, is said to be looking for a new political home.
The MEP was a Conservative member between 1978 and 1993, when he ditched the party to join Ukip.
Asked today whether Mr Farage should be allowed back into the Tory party, fellow Brexiteer Mr Rees-Mogg said: “I think if the Conservative party could reunite with the reasonable elements of Ukip that would be very good news and Nigel would be part of that.”
Speaking on LBC radio, he added: “I think it would be much easier now than it would have been when he was still a member of Ukip.
“It may be a little bit early, although personally I hold Nigel in the highest regard and think he was one of these people who was instrumental in delivering Brexit.
“So I think it's almost, but perhaps a little bit more purdah is required.”
But Mr Farage is said to be planning a new political party which would fight to secure Brexit if the Government appears to be backtracking.
A new movement headed by former Ukip economic spokesperson Catherine Blaiklock has applied to register a party with the Electoral Commission.
Mr Farage told the Sun on Sunday: “If the government goes back on its word and betrays the millions of people who voted for Brexit then we need a party prepared to stand up and fight for it.
“I’m fully prepared for article 50 to be extended or revoked and if that happens, I will re-enter the fray.”
Elsewhere in his LBC phone-in, Mr Rees-Mogg defended Jeremy Corbyn over his decision not to participate in Brexit talks with Theresa May.
The Labour leader had refused to play ball unless the Prime Minister ruled out a no-deal departure from the bloc.
Mr Rees-Mogg said: "In defence of Jeremy Corbyn, the job of the opposition is to oppose, not to make the life of the Government easy.
"And it is not unreasonable of him to say, ‘Well, actually no, you’re responsible, you won the election, if you don’t want to to do it, if you want me to help you, I’ll take over as prime minister, thank you very much.’
"So I think Theresa May was right to ask him. And he was not unreasonable to refuse - possibly politically naive to refuse, but not unreasonable."