Jacob Rees-Mogg has said he believes “Ukip and the Conservatives are broadly on the same ideological wavelength” and that the two sides had to start looking at how they can help each other.
In a recording released by the Labour party Mr Rees-Mogg said he was “an admirer of Nigel Farage” and urged both sides to “move away from the taking pot shots at each other” as most Ukip members “are former Tories”.
Labour has seized on the comments as proof the Tories and Ukip are indistinguishable, a key part of the party’s election strategy as it seeks to shore up votes in its northern heartlands.
Mr Rees-Mogg said Ukip and the Tories were “basically working towards the same ending” of a referendum on EU membership.
He told a Birmingham conference: “I think Nigel Farage is a formidably capable political operator. He has considerable charm and charisma but I also think that David Cameron is a thoroughly decent man.”
He added: “How do I see the future of Ukip and the Conservatives?
“Well, I think we’re separated brethren.
“I think we’re like the old believers and the new believers in the Russian Orthodox Church. You will remember they there sign the cross with a different hand and this became the centre of a great row so non-believers had their fingers cut off.
“But we have very, very little that separates us other than personalities and some of the minutiae.
“Why are we cutting off the fingers of Ukip, or Ukip are trying to cut off our fingers, when actually we want to head in the same direction.
“So what must we do? We must be generous with each other; we must be polite to each other; we must recognise the moral purpose binding the two parties is broadly similar and we must then try and work together which is now almost too late.”
At the same fringe event one unidentified Tory party member said he “profoundly distrusted” David Cameron, saying “My God, can you trust him? Would you actually buy a car from that man? No.”
Mr Rees-Mogg has previously backed suggestions of an electoral pact with Ukip in 2015.
The Conservative party leadership has always ruled out such a move, though may have to rethink its strategy if the next by-election goes against it.
Voters in Rochester and Strood will have their say on November 20 when former Tory Mp mark reckless seeks re-election as a Ukip MP.
The Prime Minister has ordered his cabinet to make at least five visits to the by-election battle and back bench MPs three visits in a bid to tackle a party he once dismissed as ““loonies, fruitcakes and closet racists”.
Last night Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher said voters needed to be aware that a vote fpor Ukip was the same as a tory vote.
He added: “The truth is UKIP are more Tory than the Tories. They rely on Tory money, Tory politicians and Tory policies.
“It’s little wonder Tory MPs like Jacob Rees-Mogg want to cosy up to them, but it exposes clearly that they are not a party standing up for working people in communities across Yorkshire.”