Though Carswell, Bone, Jenkin and Rees Mogg broke cover last night to call for a UKIP pact, Tory high command seem pretty relaxed about it all. Grant Shapps even just took the mick out of Rees Mogg on live TV, and the fact it is four particularly suspect members of the usual suspects seems to have dampened the noise.
Interestingly, there has been an outbreak of loyalty amongst rebellious MPs, who have had their clashes with the leadership before. Previous troublemakers are pouring cold water on the pact idea. Philip Davies, a rebel with numerous causes, tells Guido:
“A national pact with UKIP is not going to happen so it is a pointless argument – that is probably one thing that Cameron and Farage do agree about! However, obviously I hope UKIP will stand aside for Better Off Out MPs (which may actually include some Lab ones like Kate Hoey) as they have in previous elections but that is a decision for them rather than us. Clearly though we need to focus on how we can win back Tories who have left us for UKIP.”
Senior insurgent Mark Pritchard adds:
“There is no need for a pact with UKIP. UKIP may have achieved a political tremor – but they are well short of the political earthquake they were predicting. There are still some good results for the Conservatives. A pact with UKIP would tie the Conservative Party’s hands when negotiating powers back from Europe – negotiations which need to be a realistic and achievable – rather than unrealistic”
Even Michael Fabricant, who once called for a pact with UKIP, is now against it:
Some talk in the press about a Pact with UKIP. I suggested that in November 2012 michael.fabricant.mp.co.uk/images/The%20P… But I no longer think it possible.—
Michael Fabricant (@Mike_Fabricant) May 23, 2014
No.10 will feel rather chuffed if they can get the awkward squad to hold this line all the way until Monday. Whether they will feel that way in May 2015 is a different matter.