Right now everyone in Westminster is amused by the “unresignation” of Nigel Farage – or what the rest of us would call a “weekend off”. That is a done deal. What is not a done deal is the massive internal row between Nigel Farage’s allies in UKIP HQ and Douglas Carswell, UKIP’s only MP, over the control of the £650,000 of Short Money due to them as an opposition party after winning 4 million votes.
Douglas only learnt that Nige had unresigned in Central Lobby when a passing journalist from The Times, Laura Pitel, showed him a tweet on her mobile phone. Fair to say this did not go down well.
Carswell subsequently emailed UKIP’s top brass insisting on two things; firstly that UKIP in parliament does not need £650,000 of taxpayers’ money to run a parliamentary operation and that he should chair an oversight board that will control the spending of the money. It is fair to say that in the past UKIP’s expense accounting has been almost as bad as that of the European Commission. Douglas tells Guido that
“I don’t think we need a vast amount of taxpayers’ money to do the job. We should be different, we should be prepared to reject taxpayer funding. We don’t need to be on the gravy train to fund staff. UKIP should be about saying no to the political trough. Not taking our fill.”
Short Money is intended to help fund a parliamentary opposition that doesn’t have the benefit of the Civil Service, specifically
- Funding to assist an opposition party in carrying out its Parliamentary business
- Funding for the opposition parties’ travel and associated expenses
- Funding for the running costs of the Leader of the Opposition’s office
Carswell is suggesting that they accept only £350,000 from the taxpayer for the UKIP parliamentary operation. If Carswell is going to sign off the accounts he is insisting he wants to be a signatory to the bank account…
UKIP is “negotiating” the matter with their only MP and a ‘negotiator’ tells Guido:
“UKIP are looking for a way to spend this money for the betterment of our 4 million voters.”
Sources suggest there could also be “an alternative plan B” with another parliamentarian taking the cash. Carswell says of the suggestion he might be lured back to the Conservatives: “I’m 100% UKIP, and right now I’m 100% of UKIP in Westminster”.
UPDATE: Nigel Farage tells Guido:
“Douglas is the MP for 4 million people and we need to represent them properly.”