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Osborne 'not worried' over defector

George Osborne has insisted he is "not aware" of any reason why the Tories should have turned away Ukip defector Amjad Bashir.

The former communities spokesman dramatically switched sides over the weekend, branding Nigel Farage's party "pretty amateur" and accusing it of a "ridiculous" lack of policies.

But Mr Farage hit back, insisting that Mr Bashir had already been suspended by Ukip over "alarming" allegations of impropriety.

He claimed the MEP "didn't tell us the truth" about the alleged employment of illegal immigrants in his restaurant business and there are "some big open questions in Brussels about money".

There were also claims of interference in candidate selection in Keighley, West Yorkshire, and links with "political extremists" from Pakistan, according to Mr Farage.

Mr Bashir dismissed his former party's move as a "desperate attempt" to smear him to distract from the news of his decision to join the Conservatives and said there was "not a shred of truth" to the claims.

Mr Osborne was repeatedly asked on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme whether he was satisfied that Mr Bashir was a fit person to be in the Conservative Party.

"I'm satisfied that Amjad Bashir has this crucial insight, which is, if you want a referendum on British membership of the EU, you're going to need to have a Conservative government, you are going to need to have David Cameron in Downing Street, because the alternatives are not promising," he said.

"I was listening to him on the television yesterday, and I thought he was very compelling about the reasons why he wanted a Conservative government ... I'm certainly not aware of something that that I should be worried about."

He added: "We are absolutely comfortable that he will be a Conservative MEP who will speak powerfully on the reasons, based on his own personal experience, on why voting for some of these minority parties leads to the exact opposite outcome that you want."

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