Jacob Rees-Mogg has risked causing disquiet among Conservative ranks by once again suggesting the party should allow Ukip to win parliamentary seats in order to avoid splitting the right-wing vote.
Speaking on Channel 4, the Tory backbencher suggested striking a deal with Nigel Farage’s party, for which the Ukip MEP would expect to gain some members of Parliament. Rees-Mogg added that such an arrangement was “likely” to be discussed in 2014.
"I'm not going to say which of my friends I think should make way for Ukip," he told the broadcaster on Friday evening. "Potentially some, some... Ukip would expect to get some Members of Parliament out of this, yes, yes, of course. My view is that it is likely that there will be some discussions about how to do a deal in a year from now."
Earlier this year, Rees-Mogg mooted the notion of a grand alliance between Ukip and the Conservative in order to retain a right-wing hold on government.
Writing in the Telegraph, he said that it was time to make a “big open and comprehensive offer” to Ukip, adding: "there is also a closeness between the grassroots of the two parties; many UKIP members were once Conservatives and in both cases active support is stronger among the over 50s. This ought to make a collaboration reasonably straightforward. It is also crucial."
He even suggested that Nigel Farage could be Deputy prime minister in a Tory-Ukip coalition.
However, the Associate Director of YouGov has warned against such a pact. Writing in the Spectator on Friday, Anthony Wells said that even if an accord were struck in which certain Tory candidates were told to promote their Ukip rivals and likewise for Ukip, voters would still not necessarily turn out for those particular parties – “The bottom line is that parties don’t own their voters”.
Wells added: "If parties don’t own their voters, can’t buy and sell them in electoral pacts, that also means the Conservative party can target Ukip’s voters without necessarily needing to deal with Ukip – although once again, the difficulty is doing so without alienating more centrist voters.”
A YouGov poll for the Sun on Friday put the Conservatives on 33 percent support, Labour 40 percent, the Liberal Democrats 9 percent and Ukip 11 percent.
On Thursday, former Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell described Ukip as "cousins" of Conservative supporters, who should come back to David Cameron's party. In an interview with the New Statesman ahead of the Conservative Party conference in Manchester next week Andrew Mitchell said of Farage's party: "They are mostly our cousins and we want them back."