By politics.co.uk staff
The Conservative party has changed so much its members are now universally "mad", a Cabinet Office minister has reportedly said.
Michael Fabricant, the outspoken deputy chair of the Tory party, revealed in a magazine interview that Francis Maude, a former party chairman, had made the claim to him.
"Francis Maude said a great thing to me last year: 'You know what Michael? With your long hair, and your strange views, we all thought you were mad, and do you know what? The Conservative party has changed, and now we are all mad just like you'," he told Total Politics.
Fabricant added: "I took it as a great compliment and it's true!"
News of the Tory party's endemic insanity will raise eyebrows elsewhere on the right in British politics, after Ukip's members were labelled "swivel-eyed loons" by a member of Cameron's team in Downing Street.
But Maude's comments could upset Tory grassroots members, prompting Fabricant to issue a clarifying tweet stating that Maude "has great respect and affection for party members and workers".
Having worked with Francis Maude when he was Party Chairman, I can say he has great respect & affection for Party members and workers.— Michael Fabricant (@Mike_Fabricant) July 23, 2013
Fabricant's outspoken Twitter personality has emerged since he left the Conservative party's whips office.
The candour which has made his account so popular has occasionally prompted concern from David Cameron, however.
"When I send texts to David Cameron, I sign them off 'Fab', and he calls me 'Fabs'," he added.
"I would not say what he says to me; usually to stop tweeting!"
Fabricant had some useful Twitter advice for George Osborne, however, as he warned the chancellor not to be too boring online.
"If tweets are always totally on-message, no one is going to read them," he explained.
"To get your message across, you’ve got to be amusing, and sometimes not be overtly political at all… No campaign should be boring, because you turn off."