Tory donors frustrated at Theresa May’s leadership are being targeted by Nigel Farage as he seeks to build an election war chest for his Brexit Party.
Mr Farage signalled he was already looking beyond the May 23 European contests by beginning the process of selecting candidates for a general election.
And he said former Tory donors were in conversations about providing the “big bucks” needed to fight a general election campaign – in which he was likely to stand.
But he said “much bigger donors, traditionally donors to the Conservative Party” were now in conversations with the Brexit Party “because they understand and realise that to fight a general election seriously we are going to need big bucks”.
Previously loyal Tory donors were “asking themselves the question ‘what is the Conservative Party for, what purpose does it actually serve?’”.
He claimed the talks between Mrs May’s Government and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour to strike a Brexit compromise meant they were forming a “coalition against the people”.
He promised that “if there was a general election that took place any time from September onwards we would be ready to fight it”.
Warning the Tories and Labour “don’t underestimate us”, he said that “if a clean break Brexit is not delivered “ then his new party would get more votes than the almost four million secured by Ukip under his leadership in 2015.
He said the Brexit Party’s door would be open for talks with Eurosceptics from other parties about possible local pacts in constituencies to avoid splitting the vote.
But highlighting the decision by Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab to back Mrs May’s Brexit deal at the third time of asking, Mr Farage said it was “very difficult to work out in the final analysis who, in that case, you could really trust” and so the party’s priority was to fight a full national campaign.
Mr Farage defended appearances with the controversial US talk show host Alex Jones, who runs the Infowars website, which has been accused of promoting conspiracy theories.
“If you appear on programmes, it doesn’t mean that you support the editorial line necessarily,” Mr Farage said. “I have never been a conspiracy theorist at all.”