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Farage admits to secret talks with Tories as parties hit road

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Ukip leader Nigel Farage speaks to the media after unveiling his party's Pledges to Britain during a media call in London, as one of the most closely-contested general elections for decades formally gets under way today. Photo: PA

Ukip leader Nigel Farage speaks to the media after unveiling his party's Pledges to Britain during a media call in London, as one of the most closely-contested general elections for decades formally gets under way today. Photo: PA

PA

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband speaks at the presentation of their business manifesto in central London. Photo: Reuters

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband speaks at the presentation of their business manifesto in central London. Photo: Reuters

REUTERS

British Prime Minister David Cameron gives a speech at an election rally at The Corsham School in Chippenham, south west England. Photo: Reuters

British Prime Minister David Cameron gives a speech at an election rally at The Corsham School in Chippenham, south west England. Photo: Reuters

AFP

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon on the General Election campaign trail in Glasgow Fort Shopping Park in the Glasgow East parliamentary seat. Photo: PA

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon on the General Election campaign trail in Glasgow Fort Shopping Park in the Glasgow East parliamentary seat. Photo: PA

PA

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Ukip leader Nigel Farage speaks to the media after unveiling his party's Pledges to Britain during a media call in London, as one of the most closely-contested general elections for decades formally gets under way today. Photo: PA

The leader of Ukip Nigel Farage has held secret talks about working with anti-European Union Conservative MPs in preparation for a hung parliament.

He disclosed the contact when he was unveiling the party's general election pledge card outside the London offices of the European Commission in London.

Mr Farage said: "It is likely that the next government in this country won't be a two-way party coalition or deal, it will be a three-way party coalition or deal."

Asked if he had had any "conversations with Conservatives not currently Ukip about working with them after the election", he said: "Not really."

Pressed further, he said: "Not formally no. Informally in politics, round the corner, in the places that politicians frequent, these sort of conversations happen all the time.

"We are committed to using whatever influence we have in parliament to get a referendum. There are some in the Conservative party who are very keen for that to happen, others [less so]."

Mr Farage confirmed that these talks were with unnamed Tory MPs, not ministers.

Mr Farage, who has said that he would stand down as Ukip leader if he is not returned as an MP after May's election, said that he faced "a hell of a fight" to win in south Thanet.

The Ukip leader unveiled the party's pledge card - which he admitted was very "Blairite" - which made no mention of immigration.

Instead there was a vaguer commitment to "control our borders". Mr Farage played down the omission, saying people were "not obsessed with immigration as a subject" but about the changes it wrought on their communities.

Meanwhile in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon said that her party aims to join with other "progressive parties at Westminster to work for the common good" across the UK.

The Scottish first minister joined activists to campaign in the east end of Glasgow yesterday following the SNP party conference in the city over the weekend.

Polls continue to suggest that the nationalists could win dozens of seats in the election and hold the balance of power at Westminster.

The membership of the party has soared since last year's referendum, with more than 102,000 now signed up.

In her conference address Ms Sturgeon vowed to "shake up the Westminster establishment'' and make the rest of the UK take notice of Scotland in the election campaign.

In Glasgow yesterday, she said a vote for the SNP was an opportunity to end austerity, reject the renewal of Trident and win "real power" for Scotland.

She said: "We can achieve an end to the austerity cuts - implemented by the Tories and backed by Labour - which are causing so much damage."

Irish Independent