Nigel Farage deserves to be made a member of the House of Lords and should be allowed to act as an informal intermediary between Theresa May and Donald Trump, a senior Conservative MP has said.
Graham Brady, the chairman of the Tory 1922 committee of backbench MPs, also said on Thursday evening that Ukip MP Douglas Carswell should be welcomed back into the Conservative Party.
The influential MP who oversaw last summer’s Tory leadership contest also revealed he had thought the idea that Theresa May would currently be doing as good job as prime minister was “daft”. And he predicted the Conservatives were headed towards another inevitable “collective act of insanity”.
Downing Street has rejected Farage’s suggestion that he act as an informal ambassador to Trump from the UK despite his links to the president-elect’s inner-circle. The Ukip leader was the first foreign politician to meet Trump following his surprise election victory.
However speaking to the University College London Conservative Society last night, Brady said the prime minister should change her mind even some Tory MPs “think Ukip are the devil incarnate and can’t abide Nigel Farage”.
“Do I think it’s a bad thing if Nigel Farage is spending time in Washington encouraging them to be pro-British? No I don’t. I am quite relaxed about it,” he said. “I don’t see a formal role.”
Brady said while Trump was “hard to swallow” for most British voters it was “probably a better outcome for the UK in very narrow terms to have a Trump presidency than a Clinton presidency” as it would be easier to sign trade deals.
Yesterday Farage denied Ukip has broken any rules by using EU funding to fuel its eurosceptic campaigning in the UK, claiming his party is being “victimised”.
Asked if Farage should be made a peer, Brady said: “Given we have fallen into the habit of saying that there is a relationship between the new appointments and the votes cast at the last general election - which is why the Lib Dems were given a ridiculous large number of peers under David Cameron’s administration - the fact that Ukip got nearly four million votes at the general election makes it pretty hard to justify not allowing them some representation in the Upper House. If you are going to have that system, you’ve got to be seen to be fair.”
Earlier this week, the prime minister refused to rule out the Ukip leader being given a peerage.
Asked if Carswell, Ukip’s only MP, should be allowed re-join the Tory party, Brady said he “would welcome it” even if not all Conservatives would.
“Douglas was always a bit of loner when he was a colleague in the Conservative Party. But he’s a decent and principled person with very strong beliefs,” he said.
“I think its been fairly obvious Douglas Carswell hasn’t been entirely comfortable in Ukip and doesn’t get on very well with ‘Lord’ Farage. I think maybe he will get to the point he would like to come back to us. I would be open minded.”
Brady said he felt “pretty confident” about the state of the Conservative Party following Brexit and praised the “calm” leadership of the prime minister. However he indicated he had not always held that view.
“I entered parliament with Theresa May 19 years ago, if you had asked me even six months ago did I think that she would now be prime minister and be doing a pretty good job of it, I would have said ‘don’t be daft’,” he said.
But the veteran MP added: “I think we are set fair at the moment. Will the Conservative Party at some point engage in some collective act of insanity and pull itself apart? Yes.”
Brady also said while there was a case for Farage to be made a peer, he did not expect David Cameron to “sitting alongside Lord Farage on the red benches as the former prime minister’s future was making money including “apparently £120,000 a speech”.
“Former prime ministers now seem to avoid sitting in the House of Lords because there is a higher threshold of registration of interests than they would wish to live with,” Brady said.
Brady also warned the current members of the House of Lords not to try and block Brexit as the government could simply “just create a lot more peers” to outvote them. “If the House of Lords comes into conflict with the elected House they have to give way in the end,” he said.