Nigel Farage has had a "good chat" with Rupert Murdoch about the defection of Tory MPs to the anti-EU party, the Ukip leader has disclosed, in a development set to cause concern for the prime minister.
At an impromptu meeting last week, Farage and the News Corp boss discussed Clacton MP Douglas Carswell's dramatic switch. Farage, who first met Murdoch in 2013 at a dinner in the magnate's flat, told the Observer that he was delighted to have been asked to "meet the boss" again. He refused to be drawn, however, on whether Murdoch had suggested he could swing his media might behind the party.
Farage, said: "It wasn't planned but I was asked to meet the boss - we have met before - and I was happy to oblige. This is an 83-year-old guy whose finger is firmly on the pulse of what is happening in British and world politics. He was generally interested in hearing about the Carswell story, but beyond that I am going to have to disappoint you. It was a private conversation. We had a good chat."
The meeting took place after Farage had finished recording an appearance on Fox's Sean Hannity and Neil Cavuto shows at News Corp's building in Manhattan. During an ad break, Cavuto said to Farage, "Sir… The boss wants to see you. The big boss."
If Carswell, whose defection has triggered a byelection, is elected Ukip MP for Clacton, the party would gain its first parliamentary seat. A survey by Tory peer Lord Ashcroft gave Ukip a 32-point lead in the Essex constituency.
That followed a Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday that gave Nigel Farage's party a 44-point lead. The byelection is on 9 October, the prime minister's 48th birthday.
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