Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Farage: Tory MPs May Defect to Ukip

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Farage: Tory MPs May Defect to Ukip

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Murphy talks to Nigel Farage leader of Ukip THE POLITICAL INTERVIEW

DAVID CAMERON'S European troubles deepened today as Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, claimed Tory MPs may defect after Monday's revolt over an EU referendum.

In an exclusive interview with the Evening Standard, Nigel Farage said Conservative MPs, MEPs and peers had told him privately of their dissatisfaction with Mr Cameron's stance.

"I'm not going to tell you they are on the verge of coming across," he said. "All I can tell you is that it's being discussed.

I do know people in the Conservative Party -- and I've spoken to some this morning -- who are deeply depressed at the moment. Some of them have got to be asking themselves, 'What if a whole group of us went to Ukip?'" Mr Farage's call to defectors comes amid mounting Tory tensions after Monday's record Commons rebellion by 81 MPs and demands for powers to be repatriated from Brussels, including reports that former leader Iain Duncan Smith threatened to quit the Cabinet. Former treasurer Lord Hesketh defected to Ukip recently, as did Paul Oakley, former London chairman of the Tory youth wing. Lord Tebbit, the former Conservative chairman and a hero on the Eurosceptic Right, said last week that some Tories would be "wondering if it is worthwhile any more".

Mr Farage, a former trader in the London Metal Exchange, defected from the Tories in the early Nineties over John Major signing up to the exchange rate mechanism. "It was easy to me as I was so disgusted with that decision," he said. "I know it is difficult for other people.

But 20 years ago, when they forced Maastricht through, there was nowhere for Conservatives to go. Now, I would argue that Ukip is a real alternative."

He criticised Mr Cameron for posing as a sceptic to get elected, adding. "At Downing Street he has shown himself to be the most pro-EU Conservative prime minister since Edward Heath."

He also attacked Ed Miliband, saying Monday's vote would have gone the other way but for Labour backing the government.

A founding member of Ukip, Mr Farage is the party's best known face, a fast-talking south Londoner with a penchant for pin-neat blazers. …

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