Nigel Farage: I’m proud Ukip is weird

The leader of Ukip has celebrated how "eccentric" its members are, after David Cameron again accused them of being "odd".

The prime minister was asked about his previous comments that the eurosceptic campaigners were "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists" yesterday when he appeared on the Andrew Marr programme.

"There are some pretty odd people," he replied.

The comments sparked a retaliatory strike from Nigel Farage, who considers Cameron the main obstacle to any future Ukip-Tory pact.

"Do I want a party where we've got some eccentrics and occasionally someone causes us an embarrassment – or do I want a party made up of a bland lot of ghastly people whose names I don't even know?" he told the Guardian.

"I'm in politics, and I've never heard of half the MPs who come on the telly. I meet them at cocktail parties and after 30 minutes I can't remember their name!

"And they have absolutely no connection with the real world. I want Ukip to be a party of free-thinkers."

The comments came as the party celebrated new polling data which suggested it would perform strongly in next year's European elections.

A Survation survey for the Daily Mail on Sunday put Ukip on 16%, ahead of the Liberal Democrats in third place.

Many Conservative MPs are increasingly uncomfortable with Cameron's dismissive approach to Ukip.

They worry Tory voters who switch to Ukip in midterm elections, or have toyed with the party in the past, will be alienated from the Conservatives by the prime minister's comments.