POLITICS

David Cameron Accused Of Pandering To Ukip In Queen's Speech

08/05/2013 09:34 BST | Updated 08/05/2013 10:11 BST

David Cameron has been accused of pandering to Ukip after trumpeting an immigration crackdown and dropping policies that upset Nigel Farage's party.

Ministers took to the airwaves to announce new curbs on migrants' rights to benefits and healthcare, as polls showed Ukip voters were overwhelmingly worried about immigration.

Meanwhile, minimum pricing for alcohol and plain packaging for cigarettes are thought to have been dropped, after heavy criticism from Farage.

Public health campaigners are furious at the snub, and Tory MP and GP Sarah Wollaston said the Tories should not try to be "the party of fags and booze."

farage queen speech

No curbs on booze and cigarettes for Farage

Speaking on the BBC's Today Programme, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt laughed off a suggestion that the absence of the measures was down to Ukip's surge.

"We have not made our decision. And when we have made our decision we shall see if Mr Farage has a smile on his face or not," he said.

But Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said: ‘Rather than singing to the reactionary tune of UKIP on issues like immigration, David Cameron should be urgently setting out a coherent vision for economic recovery."

There was debate about whether the Queen's Speech could have been re-written since Thursday's local elections, when Ukip gained more than 100 seats.

It comes after Cameron was warned of possible defections from his party to Ukip over the EU.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Farage suggested that about 100 Tory MPs would vote to quit the EU - but only after a few drinks.

The group, Farage said, "comprises what I would call the “three-pint heroes”.

"They give the government line, but after a few libations will say, sotto voce: “You know what, Nigel. I agree with you. When the vote comes I’ll be voting for an out.” I cannot remember how many times that I have been told this, though always “strictly between ourselves, old bean”."