The UK Independence Party was denounced as racist today by Lord Heseltine, the former Deputy Prime Minister.
He mounted the strongest ever attack by a senior Conservative on the party amid calls from some Tory right-wingers for an electoral pact between Ukip and Eurosceptic MPs.
Lord Heseltine likened Nigel Farage’s party to supporters of Enoch Powell in the 1960s, saying: “We have seen Ukips before”. He also drew a parallel with the rise of far-Right politicians in Europe such as the Front National in France.
He said: “You always have these right-wing racist operations pandering to the lowest common denominator in politics.”
Lord Heseltine told the BBC: “Of course it is racist, who doubts that? The language, the rhetoric, the membership – who doubts it?”
He said he was not accusing Mr Farage of racism, but added: “His party is very attractive to a racist agenda.”
The former Deputy Prime Minister warned his party that any formal link with Ukip would drive “pivotal” voters in the political centre ground away from the Conservatives.