Nigel Farage would be welcome in the Conservative Party, Rishi Sunak suggested after the former Ukip leader attended the Tory conference in Manchester.
The Prime Minister said the Tories were a “broad church” following surprise appearances by Mr Farage at a number of fringe events.
They included a black tie dinner hosted by the Conservative Democratic Organisation (CDO), founded by allies of Boris Johnson after his exit from Downing Street, and a rally on economic growth addressed by Liz Truss, Mr Sunak’s predecessor.
Mr Farage, who has campaigned against successive Tory governments on Brexit, climate policy and immigration levels, said he “100 per cent” supported Ms Truss’s calls for immediate tax cuts.
Mr Sunak, asked by GB News whether he would welcome Mr Farage back into the Conservative fold, replied: “The Tory Party is a very broad church.
“I welcome lots of people who want to subscribe to our values, and the thing I care about is delivering for the country and more people – as I’ve seen at this conference, we’ve got record attendance.”
While Mr Farage warmly welcomed Mr Sunak’s announcement last week that a number of net zero policies would be delayed or watered down, he described recent pro-motorist policies, including measures to scale back low-traffic neighbourhoods, as “half-hearted”.
“It’s all very reactive – he could have stopped the Ulez extension if he wanted to and fought Sadiq Khan at a judicial review, and he chose not to,” he told The Telegraph. “Even on the motoring stuff he’s still half-hearted.”
Claiming that Monday’s keynote speech by Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, “went down like a lead balloon”, Mr Farage added: “The word I would use is absolutely dismal. These people want to believe in something. They want to believe in ideas, and that is why Liz Truss’s meeting was so exciting – it was about ideas.
“I think basically a Starmer implosion is their best hope, but I don’t see that really happening. I think what this conference is about is which wing of the party takes over after they lose the election. That’s what the fringe is all about.”
Suggesting that some Tory MPs were still working to undermine Brexit, Mr Farage said: “Basically, Leave versus Remain is still playing out within the Conservative Party.”