Labour warns against ‘Tory deal to prevent Farage from boosting Reform campaign’

Labour has demanded Rishi Sunak publicly rule out offering Nigel Farage a deal in exchange for not standing for Reform UK at the general election.

It follows reports that some Tory MPs nervous about the threat of Reform have urged the Prime Minister to make Mr Farage the UK’s ambassador to the US or hand him a peerage to prevent him from boosting Reform’s campaign.

It comes as recent polls have put Reform just several points behind the Conservatives, who fear the right-wing populist party could make further gains if its founder Mr Farage takes on a more prominent role.

Tory Party chairman Richard Holden refused to rule out a pact with the arch Brexiteer, telling Sky News on Thursday: “What Nigel Farage does and the Reform party is totally up to them.”

Labour on Friday warned that installing Mr Farage as the UK ambassador to Washington could undermine western unity against Russian aggression.

Mr Farage has previously suggested the West should be more open to negotiating with Russian president Vladimir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine.

Shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth said: “Rishi Sunak’s weakness leaves him pandering to the extremists in his party.

“Rishi Sunak must put national interest before the Conservative Party. No secret negotiations to keep the Farage wolf from the Tory door. Rishi Sunak must rule out this dangerous and desperate deal that risks threatening international unity against Russian aggression and undermining vital support for Ukraine.

“If the Prime Minister refuses to publicly rule out such a desperate deal, it will be clearer than ever that Rishi Sunak is too weak to act in the national interest.

“Labour will always act in the national interest, and our support for the people of Ukraine in the face of Putin’s illegal invasion is absolute. Tory MPs pushing Rishi Sunak into a dangerous and desperate deal with Nigel Farage reveals how chaotic the Tory Party has become. After 14 years of decline, it’s time for change.”

Mr Farage told Politico’s Playbook PM “I am not for sale”.

A Reform spokesman rejected the reported proposal as an “electoral bribe” and a sign of the Tories’ “desperation”.

Reform, led by Richard Tice, has recently seen former Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson defect to its ranks.

A Conservative spokesman said: “This is a desperate attempt from Keir Starmer and Labour to distract voters from serious questions Angela Rayner must answer.

“Instead of making things up, Labour should explain why their deputy leader declared to the authorities she lived at an address neighbours say she had long moved out of, and why no tax was paid on the sale of her second home.

“A vote for anyone apart from the Conservative Party risks putting Keir Starmer into Number 10 – tearing up the progress that has been made on the economy and taking the country back to square one.”