'Over my cold, dead corpse': Ruth Davidson says Conservatives would be 'imbecilic' to let in Farage

Former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson says allowing Nigel Farage to join the Conservatives would be "imbecilic" and would only happen "over my cold, dead corpse".

The Reform UK leader used the launch of his party's policy document to set out his pitch to "become a real opposition" to Labour, which will form the next government after the general election, according to the polls.

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Mr Farage said he had no intention of joining the Tories if he wins a seat in the constituency of Clacton in Essex on 4 July but refused to categorically rule out his future membership.

Speaking on the Electoral Dysfunction podcast with Sky News political editor Beth Rigby, ex-Labour adviser Ayesha Hazarika said she believes he will win and cross the floor and join the Conservatives.

"I think he's going to do a bit of a Trump," she said, arguing he will take over the Tories in the same way Donald Trump did to the Republican Party.

But Ms Davidson said there will be a "big fight" between members over whether to allow Mr Farage to join.

"I was going to say over my cold, dead corpse," she said.

"I think the party would be absolutely imbecilic to let somebody who has stood against the party… who's stated aim is to destroy the Conservative Party… to let them in, in order to mount a full takeover and be this kind of parasitic worm that takes over its host.

"No, no. I think there'll be a lot of Tories that actually decide to stand and fight."

Ms Davidson said she thinks the Conservatives would become more right wing if they lose the general election and "there will be a fight for the soul of the Tory party".

"I think there will be a lot of people that realise that perhaps their wing isn't in the ascendancy, but there are extinction events," she said.

"And something like Nigel Farage taking over might be an extinction event and it's worth fighting for."

The other candidates standing in Clacton are:

• Matthew Bensilum, Liberal Democrats

• Craig Jamieson, Climate Party

• Tony Mack, Independent

• Natasha Osben, Green Party

• Jovan Owusu-Nepaul, Labour Party

• Tasos Papanastasiou, Heritage Party

• Andrew Pemberton, UKIP

• Giles Watling, Conservative Party