Eight Tories 'in secret lunch plot to defect to UKIP' as two parties go to war over electoral pact UKIP treasurer Stuart Wheeler reveals talks to persuade Conservatives to switch partiesTory chairman Grant Shapps moved to kill off vice-chairman Michael Fabricant's idea of pactUKIP leader Nigel Farage says his party is at war with Tories and will not consider a deal unless David Cameron is sacked as leader
Mr Fabricant says there are racists in all political parties, including Conservatives
Survey finds 54% of Brits want to leave the EU
09:17 GMT, 27 November 2012
UKIP treasurer Stuart Wheeler said he had held 'secret lunches' with Tory MPs to discuss switching parties
Eight Tory MPs are in talks about defecting to the UK Independence Party, its millionaire treasurer has claimed.
A series of 'secret lunches' have been held by Stuart Wheeler, a former Conservative donor now trying to coax MPs to join UKIP.
The revelation comes as the two parties continue a war of words over a mooted electoral pact and the fall-out from the decision by Rotherham council to remove three foster children from a couple because they were UKIP members.
Mr Wheeler, a spread-betting tycoon,
said he had agreed to keep the MPs' names secret but had passed on their
details to UKIP leader Nigel Farage.
have had lunch, secretly if you like, in a completely confidential way
with eight different Tory MPs,' he told the Daily Telegraph. While still
early days, he predicted ‘a few’ could switch parties.
It follows a furious row between the two parties over the idea of forming an electoral pact at the next election.
Conservative Party vice-chairman
Michael Fabricant had urged the Premier to strike a deal with UKIP,
arguing it could help the Tories pick up 20 seats at the next election.
party chairman Grant Shapps moved to kill off the idea, saying the
party would 'categorically' not do a deal with the smaller party.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage said he would only consider a deal if the
Tories ousted Mr Cameron as leader. His party has been angered by Mr
Cameron's decision to reignite a row about comments he made in 2006 in
which he described the party's members as 'fruitcakes, loonies and
closet racists, mostly'.
Farage said: 'If Cameron went and somebody pragmatic, grown up and
sensible like Michael Gove was leader, you might think then we could sit
around the table and have a proper discussion.
very difficult for us to believe anything David Cameron says because,
after all, he gave us a cast-iron guarantee that we'd have a referendum
[on the Lisbon Treaty] and it hasn't happened.'
Tory party chairman Grant Shapps (left) put and end to the idea floated by vice-chairman Michael Fabricant (right) that the Conservatives should join forces with UKIP
Mr Fabricant had warned that UKIP had
become 'a significant contributory factor in costing the Conservative
Party victories in marginal seats'.
But he sparked controversy after suggesting that some Tories were racist while trying to defend his pact idea.
Challenged over Mr Cameron's claim in
2006 that UKIP was made up of mostly 'loonies, fruitcakes and closet
racists', Mr Fabricant said: 'The truth is, some UKIP members are. I’m
going to be very controversial now and say some Conservative members
might well be, and some Labour members and some Lib Dem members.'
'It's war': UKIP leader Nigel Farage has refused to consider a new deal unless the Tories get rid of David Cameron
Mr Fabricant showed that the party's
votes were the difference between Tories winning and losing more than 20
seats at the last election.
Under his proposal, the Tories were to
offer a referendum on Europe and give Mr Farage a job in government. In
return UKIP would agree not to field candidates against the Tories at
the next election.
But Mr Shapps said: 'I want to win the next election outright of course for the Conservatives so that we have an outright majority and don't have to be in coalition.
But I want to do that with Conservative candidates fighting and winning on their own ground and on their terms and that is exactly what we are going to do.'
Mr Farage said there would be 'no deals with the Tories – it's war. 'UKIP is not a racist party and yet Mr Cameron, the Prime Minister, basically repeated his unpleasant allegation that he made about us in 2006.
'So the real obstacle to any deal with the Conservative Party is the Conservative Party leader.'
Mr Fabricant played down the row, suggesting there were 'closet racists' in all parties. A poll has revealed a majority in favour of Britain leaving the EU.
The ComRes survey for the Independent found 54 per cent agree 'Britain should leave the EU but maintain close trading links', while 36 per cent disagree. Some 61 per cent of Tory supporters agreed.