Cameron told: ''Consider a deal with UKIP''
26 November 2012
The Conservatives could promise the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) a referendum on membership of the EU in return for them not competing against each other in up to 40 marginal seats at the next election, the Prime Minister's election adviser Michael Fabricant has suggested.
However, UKIP has ruled out the idea, with UKIP leader Nigel Farage saying there would be "no deals" with the Tories. And sources at Number 10 said there was "absolutely not" the remotest possibility of a deal.
In his discussion paper called 'The Pact? The Conservative Party, UKIP and the EU', Fabricant wrote: "There are a number of factors that will determine whether the Conservatives win the next election in 2015. These include the state of the economy, increased support from all ethnicities, and a possible boundary review. These are well known. But there is another factor and something else the Conservative Party can address if it has the will to win. The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) is now a significant contributory factor in costing the Conservative Party victories in marginal seats. It is time to consider actively whether a rapprochement might be possible before the 2015 general election. The basis of any deal is clear: A referendum on the United Kingdom's future membership of the European Union."
The paper pointed out that 15 per cent of Conservative voters said recently that they would vote UKIP while David Cameron's highest personal poll ratings were in the week following his decision to veto the proposed EU treaty in December 2011.
Fabricant added that although UKIP doesn't pose a threat in any single Westminster parliamentary seat, it does present a "troubling threat" to the Tories – at the last general election, UKIP is reckoned to have cost the Conservatives between 20 and 40 seats, just by standing and taking a "mere" 3 to 4 per cent of the vote. UKIP's real threat was in stealing votes at general elections rather than posing an actual threat to any one seat. In Bolton West, for example, Labour won with 18,329 votes but the Tories got 18,235 (a difference of 94) while UKIP got 1,901.
"Even 3.1 per cent of the vote, spread across 572 parliamentary constituencies, will have been a major contributory factor to the Conservatives failing to win an overall majority," Fabricant wrote.
He added: "With a UKIP leader in Nigel Farage, who is a former Thatcherite, who sounds like a Conservative, who looks like a Conservative, and in other circumstances probably would be a Conservative, some of the arguments being advanced here do have real relevance and must be addressed.
"UKIP are now pulling ahead of the Liberal Democrats into third place. In the latest polling, UKIP is on 8 per cent, while the Conservatives remain on 33 per cent. There is a direct correlation between the European question and the increase in UKIP support. The Conservative Party must now stop this steady erosion."
At the same time, Farage, Cameron and others have expressed their dismay at the news that Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council took three ethnic minority children from foster carers because they are UKIP members and the party has a strong policy on immigration. The council is thought to have concluded that the children's ethnic needs might not be met because of this – despite the fact that all aspects of the couple's lives will have been known to the local authority before they were approved as carers.
The move by Rotherham has been condemned by figures in various political parties. The Education Secretary Michael Gove said it was "indefensible" while the Labour leader Ed Miliband said that children should be placed with carers on the basis of the security and love they would benefit from and not on what political party they support. Ex children's minister Tim Loughton called the council's decision "deeply misguided".
The foster carers have said it is unlikely the children will be returned to them – because being passed around could be traumatic and confusing for the children – but the carers have asked the council to confirm that they will still be able to foster.