George Osborne has branded talk of a deal with UKIP “nonsense” despite polls showing a coalition between the two would be the only way to keep his boss in Downing Street. Nigel Farage first made the offer after Labour leader Ed Miliband said that he would not hold a European referendum if were Prime Minister.
Osborne told the Andrew Marr Show: “It’s just total nonsense. Voting for Nigel Farage makes Ed Miliband the likely prime minister and it means that instead of getting a referendum on Europe you get no referendum at all.”
He added: “Nigel Farage is not going to win seats in the House of Commons. Even on his own estimation, even on his own boasts he says he is going to win a small handful… Even engaging with Nigel Farage on this is giving him credibility where he has no credibility.”
Farage set out the circumstances of any UKIP deal in today’s Sunday Telegraph. He explained he would support the Conservatives but had no interest in a “ministerial car”. He said: “I would look to do a deal where we would back key votes for them – such as the budget – but in return for very specific criteria on an EU referendum.
“The terms of my deal with the Tories would be very precise and simple. I want a full and fair referendum to be held in 2015 to allow Britons to vote on being in or out of the European Union. There would be no wiggle room for ’renegotiation’ somewhere down the line.
“The EU is facing an existential crisis and, given that it only takes a few weeks to launch and organise a referendum, it should be held in 2015.
“It is my strong belief that the four million EU citizens living in the UK without British passports should not be allowed to do so (vote). And yes, that includes my German wife. They are eligible to vote in European elections, but they should not have the right to decide on Britain’s future in the EU. It may be that that would require us to do battle with the European Court of Justice – but so be it.”
Despite Osborne’s protests it is likely that Farage and Cameron would do a deal, as UKIP wants to stop Miliband and hold an EU referendum. However, Conservative voters are much more likely to stick with Cameron if they believe voting UKIP will deliver a Labour government.
As talk of post-election coalitions grow, Ed Balls refused to rule out a deal with the Scottish National Party. He was asked 13 times about a tie up but did not deny the plan.