UK & World News

  • 28 August 2014, 17:42

Five Big Wins For UKIP As Carswell Defects

For days, Nigel Farage has been impishly promising a "big announcement" about "a new donor".

Impressive spin, maximising the bombshell announcement of a defection to UKIP (and I'd not be surprised if Douglas Carswell had handed over a tenner to make the claim true, technically).

The first win for UKIP, is obviously getting a Conservative MP to defect.

Second, in Carswell UKIP have gained a respected, independent, radical mind, an ex-Spectator parliamentarian of the year.

He is not a time-serving, bitter backbencher overlooked for promotion in the Coalition Government.

He is a man of interesting views - from direct democracy, to the system of money and debt, to immigration, and of course Europe.

He has a strong following within the Conservative grassroots.

Third, he will resign as an MP, triggering a by-election, at the worst possible time for the Conservatives.

Some political analysts felt the European and local elections in May were just a form of the typical mid-term protest vote, that UKIP was running out of steam.

This changes that completely.

Fourth, was the manner of Carswell's resignation. Calm praise of the prime minister, who he voted for as Conservative party leader.

But then he assailed Mr Cameron's entire strategy to heal the Conservative party's open wounds on Europe.

The policy of renegotiation of EU membership followed by a 2017 referendum was "not sincere", the leadership wanting to secure "just enough" to pretend change was happening.

The Conservative leadership was not "serious about real change". There will a few other Conservative MPs pondering that one.

Fifth, he also singled out the key moments that pushed him to the exit door.

There was Mr Cameron's recent talk to the 1922 committee when Carswell claims he said he would not consider the UK going for a trade-only "associate" status with the EU.

He also criticised the effective dropping of "open primaries", and the treatment of one MP chosen by them, Dr Sarah Wollaston.

And he expressed his regret over the failure to get tough MP recall powers.

More than anything, this could blow open the Conservatives decades-long internal fight over Europe.

At a time when David Cameron and George Osborne were finalising their conference offer to the electorate, a plan to turn the as yet voteless recovery into a vote-heavy one, this is the last thing the PM needed.

On the day the PM flies to Glasgow to try to help keep the Union together, he faces the old nightmare, of keeping his own party together.

Ed Miliband and Alex Salmond will be sharing in Nigel Farage's delight today.

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