Dame Andrea Jenkyns defends campaign leaflet which features Nigel Farage photo

A Conservative former minister has defended her election campaign leaflet which features Reform UK leader Nigel Farage.

Dame Andrea Jenkyns, who is campaigning to be the Conservative MP for Leeds South West and Morley, has a leaflet which includes an image of her and Mr Farage at his 60th birthday party earlier this year.

Her decision to include the photograph raised eyebrows in Westminster circles, because Mr Farage’s party is directly competing with the Tories for votes across the country – including in the Clacton constituency where he is standing.

But Dame Andrea defended her choice, as she acknowledged there had been “lots of excitement” about it in a post on social media site X.

“All conservatives must be prepared to come together to prevent a socialist supermajority and the end of Britain as we know it,” she said.

Mr Farage has recently branded Reform as the “challenger for Labour” and suggested he wants the party to become the “real opposition”, before launching a bid to take power in the next decade.

Conservative former home secretary Suella Braverman has suggested Reform and the Tories have similar political positions, and that Mr Farage could join her party.

General Election campaign 2024
Reform UK leader Nigel Farage speaks to the media in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

But he has rejected this invitation because of the Conservatives’ record on net migration.

Former education minister Dame Andrea attended Mr Farage’s birthday celebration at a restaurant in Canary Wharf in April, alongside Conservative former prime minister Liz Truss and ex-Tory Lee Anderson, who defected to Reform while he was MP for Ashfield.

Donald Trump sent his best wishes to Mr Farage via a pre-recorded video message.

Dame Andrea’s election leaflet features the strapline “people before politics”, and claims she will be “your outspoken Yorkshire voice with a proven track record”, all against a Conservative blue background.

Alongside her photograph with Mr Farage, there are other photos of the former MP carrying out constituency work, including meeting with what appears to be a Second World War era re-enactor.

It also boasts of £24.5 million investment into Morley, a town which she represented in the last parliament as Conservative MP for Morley and Outwood – a constituency which is being replaced due to boundary changes.

She had a majority of 11,267 over her Labour opponent at the 2019 election, having first won the seat in 2015 from Labour former minister Ed Balls.

Fact-checking charity Full Fact warned the leaflet could create a misleading impression, as it suggested Dame Andrea had been endorsed by Mr Farage.

Chris Morris, Full Fact’s chief executive, said: “This is not the first time we’ve seen campaign materials that use a misleading impression instead of open and honest competition.

“This kind of tactic causes long-term damage to trust in politics and drives people away from the process at exactly the moment we should be encouraging them to engage.

“All parties need to be asking themselves if they are improving or undermining the spirit of our election. Are they trying to persuade or to deceive?”