George Osborne refuses to rule out a deal with Ukip after the general election in the event of a hung parliament, as Nigel Farage reveals a pact with the Conservatives could be possible.
The Ukip leader has said he would prop up a Tory government if the party agreed to stage a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union in 2015.
The chancellor, however, claimed Mr Farage was trying to “muddy the waters”, arguing the Ukip leader was “not a credible participant” in the general election.
“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,” George Osborne told BBC 1’s Andrew Marr Show.
Even engaging with Nigel Farage on this is giving him credibility where he has no credibility. George Osborne
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.”
But pressed to rule out a deal, he replied: “Even engaging with Nigel Farage on this is giving him credibility where he has no credibility.”
And he said he would bar EU citizens who do not hold a British passport from voting, even though that would include his German wife, Kirsten, and could lead to a legal challenge.
The South Thanet parliamentary candidate reiterated that his party would not enter a formal coalition with the Tories and he was not interested in a “ministerial car”.
Mr Farage 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.
There would be no wiggle room for “re-negotiation” somewhere down the line. Nigel Farage
“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. And yes, that includes my German wife.”
He added that the wording of the question that will be put to voters “matters hugely”, comparing it to the referendum question in the Scottish independence vote.
While he admitted “a vast number of them (Tories) hate us and I dislike them”, he said he could work with Conservative Chief Whip Michael Gove.
Up until now, the prime minister has vowed to hold a referendum by the end of 2017, and has said he will campaign to stay in a reformed EU.