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Andrew RT Davies Farage comments expose Welsh Conservative rifts

09 Jul 2024 5 minute read
Andrew RT Davies.

Emily Price

Comments from the most senior Tory in Wales about Reform UK leader Nigel Farage have sparked civil war fears amongst the ranks of his party in the Senedd.

In a video clip published to X, the leader of the Welsh Conservative Senedd group, Andrew RT Davies appeared to suggest that the door could be left ajar for the Reform leader to rejoin the party.

Mr Farage quit the Conservative party in 1992 after the UK signed the Maastricht Treaty which called for a closer union among European nations.

He campaigned for Brexit as leader of UKIP and then went on to lead the Brexit Party and now Reform UK, moving between media jobs and political campaigns throughout his career.

In an interview with Sharp End’s Rob Osborne on Monday (July 8) when quizzed on whether Mr Farage could be a member of the Conservative Party in the future, the Tory leader initially said, “no”.

But when pressed by the ITV presenter, Andrew RT Davies didn’t rule out the possibility of a Tory comeback for the controversial figure.

Mr Osborne asked: “Utterly not? Never a member of the Conservative party?”

Andrew RT Davies replied: “You’ve changed the question there because you said ‘never’. As things stand at the moment he is the leader of an alternative political party, a party I might add he owns, he actually owns 53% of Reform.

“But ultimately he’s the leader of a party that’s sought to deny Conservative candidates winning at the last election.”

The Tory leader was again pressed for a definitive answer on whether he would be happy for Mr Farage to rejoin the Conservatives – maybe even as the party’s leader.

‘Centre-right’

Andrew RT Davies replied: “The party is open to anyone in this country who wants to be involved in political activism on the centre-right.

“When it comes to the Welsh Conservatives we are really powerful champions of communities the length and breadth of Wales.

“What we saw on Thursday is when the centre-right vote is spilt and divided, the left dominate. And that’s what happened on Thursday, the centre-right vote was spilt and many good Conservative MPs and candidates didn’t get elected.

“What we have to do is build a consensus on the centre-right to show that we have the solutions and answers for the problems that Wales faces and build that consensus so that we get as many elected members back in 2026 as possible.”

The current Tory leader’s comments to ITV appeared to be in stark contrast with the former Tory Senedd leader, Paul Davies, who just days ago rejected the idea of Mr Farage rejoining the Conservatives as a “load of old tosh”.

Reacting to a BBC News article with the headline, ‘Tories must embrace Farage after defeat’, Paul Davies said: “What a load of old tosh. Nigel Farage is a Libertarian and a populist. He is no Conservative and I say that as someone who has been a member of the Conservative party for decades.”

A Welsh Conservative insider told Nation.Cymru the Tory leader’s comments to ITV could trigger a “civil war” amongst the Senedd group with members more likely to back Paul Davies than their current leader.

Andrew RT Davies’ Sharp End interview also appeared to be at odds with his own comments to the BBC on Saturday (July 6) when he said the solutions to the problems facing his party in Wales “will not be found through the empty lens of Nigel Farage’s pint glass”.

Andrew RT Davies was openly critical of his own party during the aftermath of the July 4 election saying the Conservatives – who suffered a humiliating wipeout in Wales – had “let a lot of people people down”.

The defeat saw Secretary of State for Wales David TC Davies lose his Monmouthshire seat. A loss which saw Andrew RT Davies become the most senior Conservative figure in Wales.

Tory strategists have long seen Mr Farage’s right-wing populist political party as a threat – potentially taking votes from seats the Tories were defending against Labour.

Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman – who is on the right of the party – suggested the Conservatives should welcome Mr Farage into their ranks.

Last week’s general election saw him achieve success on his eighth attempt to gain a seat in Westminster with his party achieving a greater electoral result than either of his former outfits.

He is joined in the Commons by former Tory Lee Anderson, party chairman Richard Tice and former Southampton FC chairman Rupert Lowe.

Racism 

Reform UK’s election campaign – which was launched in Merthyr Tydfil – was mired by allegations of racism following a Channel 4 broadcast which showed a Reform canvasser using a racist slur about Rishi Sunak. Mr Farage claimed that the footage was a “set up”.

This is not the first time that Mr Farage and the Senedd Tory leader have hit the headlines together.

In October 2023, Andrew RT Davies was interviewed by the political figure in Cardiff for a special edition of ‘Farage at Large’.

The Tory Senedd leader appeared as a live guest to discuss the Llywydd’s decision to remove GB News from the Senedd’s internal TV system.

He was later accused of “misogyny” after he suggested Presiding Officer Elin Jones had declined an invitation to the interview because she was “busy doing her hair”.


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Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
5 days ago

The idea that the last 16 Tories in Wales are about to descend into ‘civil war’ over their arch nemesis Farij is a gift from the future (2026). By the time we vote then, they’ll still be scratching each others eyes out in their jointly owned cess pit and neither of these sick factions will emerge looking electable.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
5 days ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

Let’s hope, eh? It would be good to be entirely Tory free at all levels.

Garycymru
Garycymru
4 days ago
Reply to  Fi yn unig

I’m holding out for the time that Wales is completely free of reform or the tories. Neither has any place in Wales.

hdavies15
hdavies15
4 days ago
Reply to  Garycymru

Why limit your expectations or ambitions to just those 2 parties ? Any Unionist party retaining a significant presence does us no good at all with their instinctive deference to Westminster and the Anglo Brit supremacy.

Jeff
Jeff
5 days ago

His interview on BBC was awful, and unchallenged, he even boasted going on Farage’s show on gbeebies, not seen the ITV one yet. Farage has batted for putin (closet admirer now I think) and overtly trump supporter who has paid out for sex abuse and insurrectionist that will destroy the US if he gets back in. This is what ARTD appears to be supporting via farage. Dont forget ARTD supported the liar and cheat PM, Johnson, supported Truss for a few weeks and Sunak and Bravermans awful policies but cannot see why they lost. There in lies a major issue… Read more »

Nobby Tart
Nobby Tart
4 days ago
Reply to  Jeff

I’ll give RT a year at most until he defects.

Jeff
Jeff
4 days ago
Reply to  Nobby Tart

Time will tell. A few from the Cons have been on gbeebies, they have graced farage diatribe shows, will be a larger defection? At the moment the top Welsh cons act like the bullies at the back of the class. Farage was on form yesterday going after bercow in a general chat that is supposed to be genial in the HoC and 30p claim the fox is on the hen house, which he complete missies the point pf that saying, and one of the other reform MP’s going aftre teachers already abusing his office. The Welsh cons should fit right… Read more »

Last edited 4 days ago by Jeff
Matt Evans
Matt Evans
5 days ago

Don’t like RT Davies and like standing up for him even less but the question was loaded to generate a clickbait headline either way. If RT Davies said never he was effectively saying Farage was banned from the Tories.

He said Farage wasn’t right for the Tories and that’s where the questioning should have ended.

Blinedig
Blinedig
4 days ago
Reply to  Matt Evans

Or maybe be never have started? Nigella Forage gets far too much media attention anyway.

Brad Steel
Brad Steel
4 days ago

Starmer must not make the same mistake Blair made and assume the Tories are beaten. They’re already regrouping like the shattered pieces of a liquid metal robot in a well-known 1991 AI documentary. The only hope for humanity when they inevitably regain power is that central government has been completely modernised and transformed so the 19th century pomp and ceremony we saw today no longer exists outside of the Museum of Westminster.

Steve Woods
Steve Woods
4 days ago

A masterclass in supping with a short spoon by a not very clever – or aware – man.

Charles Coombes
Charles Coombes
3 days ago

Dont even try to touch him. No not even with a Farage pole. (Sorry it mutated from Barge)

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