Tory/UKIP Defection Runners and Riders

Tim Montgomerie’s warning today that two Tory MPs are seriously considering defecting to UKIP has got the rumour mill spinning. As ever Guido gives you his tongue in cheek take on the runners and riders.

Mark Pritchard
Eurosceptic rating: 10/10

Pritchard is a serious contender. The secretary of the 1922 Committee resigned from his position as the Conservative Party’s International Office deputy chairman last month, telling the papers that his decision was a protest against Cameron’s weakness on Europe. Could he be about to jump ship?

Bill Cash
Eurosceptic rating: 10/10

Cash has a history of causing trouble over Europe, and was famously part of the Maastricht Rebellion that did for John Major. He has a fractious relationship with Dave and led a rebellion against the Coalition last year. Said to be reaching the end of his tether, though has stated on the record he does not want to quit the EU.

George Eustice
Eurosceptic rating: 9/10

An outside punt but it would be the completion of a journey for Dave’s one time Press Secretary who now leads a new group of moderately disgruntled eurosceptic Tory MPs. Guido can’t really see it happening due to the bright party career ahead but…

He’s ex-UKIP…

Douglas Carswell
Eurosceptic rating: 9/10

Carswell has long been an outspoken critic of the government, and ramped up the pressure on Cameron last year by suggesting that ministers could not be trusted to defend British interests on the continent. Extremely closed to fellow rabblerouser Dan Hannan. His name on a UKIP ticket would be a huge coup…

Jacob Rees-Mogg
Eurosceptic rating: 8/10

Everyone’s favourite eccentric backbencher lambasted the Tory leadership last year for allowing the Lib Dems to dictate Coalition policy on Europe, and has suggested that the EU could be the issue that brings down the government. He is even an expert on ‘flexicurity’…

Nadine Dorries
Eurosceptic rating: 8/10

To say there is no love lost between Nadine and Dave would be an understatement. Dorries has been strongly critical of Cameron’s stance on abortion, child benefit and his closeness to Nick Clegg, and was furious after her boss’ quip at PMQs that she was ‘frustrated’. Revenge is a dish best served cold and the party machine are not helping her with a little local difficulty in the Boundary Review.

While Guido understands that a defection isn’t imminent and Tim was obviously trying to put pressure on them not jump, there is clearly serious and growing discontent among Tory backbenchers. It can only be a matter of time…




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Quote of the Day

David Cowling, the BBC’s head of political research, in an internal memo…

“It seems to me that the London bubble has to burst if there is to be any prospect of addressing the issues that have brought us to our current situation. There are many millions of people in the UK who do not enthuse about diversity and do not embrace metropolitan values yet do not consider themselves lesser human beings for all that. Until their values and opinions are acknowledged and respected, rather than ignored and despised, our present discord will persist. Because these discontents run very wide and very deep and the metropolitan political class, confronted by them, seems completely bewildered and at a loss about how to respond (“who are these ghastly people and where do they come from?” doesn’t really hack it). The 2016 EU referendum has witnessed the cashing in of some very bitter bankable grudges but I believe that, throughout this 2016 campaign, Europe has been the shadow not the substance.”

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