Farage ready to enter coalition

Bicester Advertiser: Nigel Farage says Ukip would be ready to enter coalition with either Conservatives or Labour in return for a referendum on membership of the European Union Nigel Farage says Ukip would be ready to enter coalition with either Conservatives or Labour in return for a referendum on membership of the European Union

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage has said he would be ready to enter coalition with either Conservatives or Labour after the general election if it guaranteed a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union.

Mr Farage was speaking after a YouGov poll for LBC radio suggested Conservative supporters would be ready to back a Tory-Ukip coalition if next year's elections end in a hung Parliament.

Asked which party Ukip should form a coalition with if it held the balance of power, 76% of Tory voters said the Conservatives, compared with 48% of Labour supporters and 40% of Liberal Democrats who said Mr Farage should seek a deal with their parties.

Among Ukip voters, 40% said the eurosceptic party should go into coalition with Tories, against 12% who would prefer a pact with Labour, 8% with the Lib Dems and 35% who said Mr Farage should reject any coalition deal.

Mr Farage told LBC: "If we get to a position where Ukip is able, because it's got the numbers, to get the people of this country a referendum, we would do a deal - not just with the Conservatives, we'd do one with Labour if it came to that - if it meant we'd get that vote."

Commenting on the survey findings that Tory voters are keener than supporters of other parties to see a coalition deal with Ukip, Mr Farage said: "What this poll shows you is that Conservative voters don't particularly like the deal with the Lib Dems, which is hardly surprising.

"I think what it also tells us is that Conservative voters are recognising in big numbers that their party is not going to win a majority at the next election. That's why the figure is as high as it is. That's why it's a much, much higher figure than anything we've seen over the course of the last 12 months.

"Most Conservative voters are closer to what Ukip stands for than what Mr Cameron stands for and that essentially has been a major problem for him."

Some 41% of those questioned in the poll said Britain would better leaving the EU, against 37% who think its interests are best served by remaining a member. Among those questioned, 39% said the UK was a better place to do business because it was an EU member, compared with 24% who said membership made it a worse place to do business.

About 29% said the UK was "less safe" as an EU member and 26% "safer".

EU membership was more popular among the young, with 18 to 24-year-olds agreeing by a margin of 49%-26%, and 25 to 39-year-olds by 39%-34% that Britain was better off in.

Exit from the EU was preferred by a margin of 43%-37% among 35 to 59-year-olds and by 53%-32% among over-60s.

Ukip said its membership has reached a record of more than 34,000 as 2,000 new members had joined so far this year.

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