Ukip leader Nigel Farage arrived in Manchester floating the idea of joint Tory-Ukip candidates at the next election, however his charm offensive came somewhat unstuck after he launched a personal attack on a leading eurosceptic MP.
Speaking at on the fringes of the Conservative Party conference on Monday, Farage lashed out at Bill Cash, despite his strong anti-EU credentials, for "not having the balls" to stand up to John Major over Europe. Farage also attacked Cash for being a "hopelessly out of date tribal politician".
Barely two minutes into his speech Tory MP Anne Main, sat two rows from the front in the packed hall, stood up and stormed out of the event. "I'm not listening to this rubbish, she declared. Angry at the personal attack on Cash she accused him of "party political stunts".
Main had been sitting with Tory backbencher Peter Bone - one of the MPs Farage has picked out as favourable to some sort of local constituency deal.
"If we can get he parties somehow to work together, how that would work I don't know, but we would have a Conservative majority and we would have the in/out referendum and we would come out of Europe," Bone told reporters as he left the event in Manchester town hall. "At the moment what we are heading for is a split of that vote that would let Labour in."
But the Wellingborough MP conceded Farage's full on attack against Tory MPs had not made any pact, whether local or national, more likely. "I'm not sure that was too helpful," he conceded. "I'm not sure that actually brought that any nearer."
Farage's personal attack on Cash, the godfather of eurosceptisim on the Tory benches, came after the MP for Stone had told the Ukip leader to "lay off our marginal seats" and that only the Conservatives could deliver an EU referendum.
Many Conservative MPs who hold only a slim lead their constituencies are worried that even a small increase in the Ukip vote in 2015 could cost them their jobs by letting the Labour or Lib Dem candidates through the middle.
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