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Farage denies shock claims he's planning to join DUP

By Staff Reporter

Nigel Farage has quashed speculation that he is considering joining the DUP as he prepared to appear at a party function in Ballymena.

The former Ukip leader received a warm welcome at the fundraising dinner last night.

Earlier, comments by Arron Banks, who bankrolled Ukip, sparked speculation that Mr Farage could be considering a shock move to the unionist party.

Asked during an interview on Sky News if Mr Farage would use the DUP to run for Parliament, he said all things were possible in politics. But Mr Farage said: "I will be remaining Ukip MEP. I have shared platforms with Labour MP Kate Hoey, Tory minister Liam Fox and other people like George Galloway.

"I am happy to support those who supported the Leave campaign during the Brexit referendum. My visit is nothing more than that."

Among those at the DUP dinner last night were Paul Frew, Paul Girvan, Sammy Wilson and Ian Paisley.

A series of senior Conservatives have already visited Northern Ireland at the DUP's invitation. Before the dinner, Mr Paisley tweeted: "Looking forward to welcoming my great friend @Nigel_Farage to my North Antrim constituency tonight to talk about Brexit and Beyond.

"I notice the media fever over this already. I welcome many guests from many parties to North Antrim and Nigel will love the place and its people."

A DUP spokesman said: "Nigel Farage will be the guest speaker at a local DUP event in County Antrim. Mr Farage has already indicated this trip is not about joining the DUP."

In any event, under DUP rules someone cannot become a member of the party unless they live in Northern Ireland, the spokesman added.

Mr Farage visited Northern Ireland several times when he was leader of Ukip. A branch of Ukip was set up in Northern Ireland under former Ulster Unionist David McNarry but it has failed to establish itself as a one of the main parties.

Mr Farage encouraged the Republic of Ireland to "Irexit" from the EU during a speech in Dublin recently.

Ukip has collapsed in the polls across the UK following the Brexit referendum and has no MPs.

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