British Euroskeptic party leader Nigel Farage said on Sunday he could “potentially” do a deal with Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives if they fall short of a majority in May’s general election.
That marks a subtle shift from two years ago when Farage ruled out any cooperation with the ruling party as long as Cameron stayed in power. “Mr Cameron, whenever he’s asked about UKIP, just throws abuse at us and calls us nutters and closet racists so I don’t think there’s any prospect of us doing a deal with the Conservative Party with Mr Cameron in charge,” he said at the time.
Farage’s United Kingdom Independence Party is polling at around 15 percent support but may only win a few seats under Britain’s first-past-the-post voting system.
However, with neither the Conservatives nor Labour likely to win an outright majority, even a few seats could give Farage the balance of power in Westminster.
UKIP won a quarter of the votes in last year’s European Parliament elections and now has most British seats in the Strasbourg legislature. The party advocates a British withdrawal from the European Union.
On Sunday, during an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Farage conditioned any support for a referendum about Britain’s membership of the European Union on equal spending limits for both campaigns and said he wanted only British citizens to have the right to vote in it.
Cameron, who wants Britain to stay in the European Union, has promised to call a referendum on the island nation’s membership by 2017, provided he is reelected this year.
The promise of a referendum is seen as an attempt on the prime minister’s part to dissuade Euroskeptic voters from switching to UKIP which could eat away at his own Conservative Party’s support. A strong showing for Farage’s party would split the right-wing vote and possibly allow Labour to win swing districts, giving it, rather than the Conservatives, a plurality of the seats in Parliament.