UK Politics

UKIP conference: Farage accuses PM of 'EU deception'

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Media captionNigel Farage said genuine Conservative eurosceptics should consider their future in the party

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage has accused David Cameron of a "mass deception" over European policy.

Mr Farage told delegates at their autumn conference in Eastbourne that the Conservative leader had "let down" his supporters over a referendum on the EU and a range of domestic issues.

UKIP's call for an "amicable divorce" from the EU which had become "mainstream", he said, and he urged Tory MPs frustrated with their policy to join his party.

UKIP failed to elect any MPs last year.

The party is attempting to regroup after recent disappointing election results and dissent in its ranks.

UKIP, which campaigns for the UK to leave the EU, is demanding a referendum on Britain's membership. It says there should still be a free trade agreement with other European countries, without the existing political links.

'Myth'

Mr Farage turned his fire on the Conservatives, accusing Mr Cameron of making pre-election promises on Europe and other issues which he had no intention of keeping.

Pledges on immigration, law and order and defence cuts had been broken, he said, as well as a guarantee Mr Cameron made of a referendum on changes to the EU in the 2009 Lisbon Treaty.

"Slowly but surely, the great myth that the Conservatives are better than the other lot, that the myth that the Conservatives will stand up for the nation is beginning to unravel," he said.

The Conservative leadership was more "committed to membership of the EU and more committed to denying us a referendum than ever before", he added.

His speech comes amid renewed tensions in the Conservatives over Europe, with a group of 80 MPs set to meet on Monday to discuss ways to reshape the UK's relationship with the EU.

But Mr Farage said he believed the number of Tory MPs committed to EU withdrawal was "really rather small" and those that were should consider whether they were in the right party.

Mr Farage, who was re-elected leader last year for his second stint, also asked party members to consider proposals for an English parliament.

Following devolution, he said English people "feel used and under-represented" and that the unity of the UK has been weakened by the process.

However, a decision on officially adopting the idea as party policy is not expected for some time.

Other issues

The party's conference, which lasts until Saturday, will also feature former Conservative MP Neil Hamilton among its scheduled speakers.

The ex-minister, who lost his seat in 1997 following the "cash-for-questions" scandal, announced last week that he was joining UKIP and is seeking election to its national executive.

Timo Soini, leader of the Eurosceptic True Finns Party, which gained 19% of the vote at Finland's general election in April, will also address delegates.

With UKIP keen to be seen as more than a party which just campaigns on leaving the EU, the conference will also discuss defence, education and housing.

Mr Farage stood down before the last general election in a failed bid to win a Westminster seat, but regained the job in last year's leadership contest.

In May, one of the party's Euro MPs, Marta Andreasen, called for him to quit for a second time, arguing he had "abjectly failed" to bring about a breakthrough in local elections in England.

The party dismissed this demand as "eccentric and naive".

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