Nigel Farage wants to lead a “merged” Conservative and Reform party after the general election.

The Brexiteer said he believes the Tories “may well be dead” and that he is “capable of leading a national opposition to a Labour party with a big majority.”

A recent YouGov poll had the Tories on 18%, with Reform just one point behind on 17%.

In Scotland, the party is on 4%, just behind the Lib Dems and ahead of the Greens and Alba.

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Speaking to LBC, Mr Farage said the situation was already “close to a tipping point”.

He said he believed “something new is going to emerge on the centre-right” of politics.

“Do I think I’m capable of leading a national opposition to a Labour Party with a big majority, where I can stand up and hold them to account on issues? Yes.”

He said he would lead a “merged party” of the Tories and Reform, but not the Conservative Party as it “currently is”.

“They may be dead. This may be the end of their journey. I would be prepared to lead the centre-right in this country,” he said.

He added: “I would be prepared to lead the centre-right in this country, a centre-right that stands up for small business, a centre-right that believes in borders, a centre-right that isn’t scared of standing up for the British people.”

Mr Farage was challenged about a Times newspaper report that one-in-10 Reform candidates are “friends” on Facebook with Gary Raikes, leader of the fascist New British Union.

“I’d never heard of Gary Raikes until yesterday,” Mr Farage said.

“Don’t forget, I’ve come in right at the last minute, we have not had time to do full vetting of candidates. It’s been impossible for us.”

But he added: “Not all of our candidates have been to Eton, not all of our candidates have been to Oxford, not all of our candidates are part of the London set.

“And people like things on Facebook without having a clue where they come from.”

Asked about Ian Gribbin, the party’s candidate in Bexhill and Battle, who has said that Britain should have “taken Hitler up on his offer of neutrality” instead of fighting the Nazis in the Second World War, Mr Farage said it was a “stupid thing to say”.

But he suggested there would be no disciplinary response: “What can you do? His name’s on the ballot paper, I can’t remove it.”

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Speaking to Times Radio. Lord David Cameron said Tories backing Reform would help bring in a Labour government.

Asked if his heart sank when Mr Farage announced he was standing, Lord Cameron replied: “I don’t think my heart did anything particularly, it was just you know, I’m very focused on winning for the blue team.”

A number of senior Tories have seemingly accepted defeat and are now urging voters not to give Labour too big a victory on July 4.

Yesterday, ex-attorney general, Sir Geoffrey Cox, said Britain was “sleepwalking into a one-party socialist state.”

“The consequences would be horrific, not just for the Conservative Party and for the country, but also for Labour because having an opposition is important,” he warned.

"We would be facing a government with untrammelled power.

“And it's a wake-up call. It doesn't mean it's going to happen. It needn't happen.”

However, Lord Cameron insisted the Tories could still win the election.

He told Times Radio: “I remember fighting the election in 2015 and people said I didn’t have a chance.

"And we were behind in the polls and we kept going and we had a clear plan, we had a strong team, and we came through and won the election.

“So anything is possible.

“During elections, time spent talking about opinion polls is just time completely wasted because you don’t know whether they are right.”