Rees-Mogg calls on Sunak to make Farage a government minister

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Rishi Sunak should make Nigel Farage a Tory minister and allow other senior Reform UK politicians to stand as Conservative candidates at the general election, a former cabinet minister has urged.

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, a senior right-wing MP and former business secretary, issued the radical proposal on Tuesday, insisting that uniting Britain’s right was the Tories’ “only chance of climbing this electoral mountain” lying ahead.

The Conservative party is trailing Labour by about 20 points in opinion polls and suffered crushing losses in local elections earlier this month.

Speaking on his own GB News programme, Rees-Mogg argued that the prime minister could close that gap with a “big, open and comprehensive offer to those in Reform”, in a move designed to consolidate the right-wing voting bloc in the UK.

Sunak “should offer candidate selection to senior members of the Reform party”, including its honorary president Farage, its leader Richard Tice and its deputy leader Ben Habib, Rees-Mogg said.

He went further, calling on the prime minister to enlist the “help of Nigel Farage in a Conservative government as a Conservative minister, with Boris Johnson probably returning as foreign secretary . . . as well as pursuing genuinely Conservative policies”. Such moves would put a Tory victory in the general election, expected later this year, “within reach”, Rees-Mogg said.

He highlighted a survey published by The Sun earlier this week which indicated that Reform would reach 16 per cent in the polls if Farage, a high-profile champion of Brexit, made a political comeback to the forefront of the party. At present, Farage is a fellow broadcaster on GB News, away from frontline politics.

The same poll put the Tories on 21 per cent. “When putting these percentages together, it gets us to 37 per cent to Labour’s 41 [per cent],” Rees-Mogg said. He acknowledged that his argument was an oversimplified strategy, but insisted it would send “a clear message to the electorate of unity of purpose” among the British right.

The Tory MP pointed out that, in 2010, his party had been willing to enter a coalition with the Liberal Democrats who were “hardly our soulmates”, while, in contrast, “most members of Reform are not a million miles away from most Conservative voters and members politically”.

The Lib Dems seized on his remarks, declaring that Sunak should suspend the whip from Rees-Mogg. Daisy Cooper, the party’s deputy leader, said the Tory party was a “shambolic mess”, adding that its MPs were in “open revolt”.

“If the prime minister had any bottle he would suspend the whip from Rees-Mogg and rule out Nigel Farage being allowed into the Conservative party,” she said.

Rees-Mogg’s intervention provoked a derisive response from some other Tories. One centrist labelled it “moronic” and another former minister called it “utterly thick”.

However, some MPs on the Conservative right have indicated they would support Farage coming back to the fold. Last week Robert Jenrick, a former immigration minister, told LBC: “I would not oppose Nigel Farage coming back into the party.”

In the past Rees-Mogg called for an electoral pact between the Tories and Ukip, the pro-Brexit party that Farage previously led.

The Conservative party was contacted for comment.

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