Farage mulls Tory/Ukip ceasefire ahead of election

By Charles Maggs

There is still a distinct chance that Ukip and the Conservatives could strike a deal before the next election, according to Nigel Farage.

The Ukip leader told supporters at their party conference in Birmingham this afternoon that the national interest should come first when it came to 2015 and that the ultimate goal remained Britain's exit from the EU.

"If an opportunity came which meant we could get this country closer to walking through a door marked 'UK independence', if we have the opportunity to do something that was in the national interest, we would be silly not at least to consider it," he said.

But he claimed that any talk of a deal had come from the Conservatives, not from him.

Farage predicted that Nick Clegg would not be Liberal Democrat leader by 2015 and a more left-leaning Lib Dem party would seek to do a deal with Labour, forcing the Conservatives to seek a pact.

But he was cautious about any deal, suggesting that on the issue of Europe the main parties had broken promises before. Any pact with the Tories would have to see a promise of a Europe referendum 'written in blood, he argued.

It is unclear how such an electoral 'pre-nup' might work, but the notion has been floated in the past that Ukip could not field candidates against Conservatives who have signed up to the 'better off out' campaign.

Farage promised delegates that despite the rumours of a future deal he was not about to "sell this party short for any political gain".

He added: "Absolutely no way on Earth that I would do that."

"The only way we would consider a negotiation of any kind would be if first an absolute promise was made to give this country a full, free and fair referendum so that we can decide whether we remain members of the EU or not."

But he went on to say that "there might be a problem even then", and mocked the main parties record on Europe, suggesting that it would be very hard to trust even a "cast iron guarantee" from the Conservatives .