A Quarter Of Tory Councillors 'Back Ukip Pact' As Donors Defect From Cameron To Farage

Nigel Farage, the Leader of UKIP (UK Independence Party), during his speech at the UKIP party conference, held at Central Hall in Westminster, London.
Nigel Farage, the Leader of UKIP (UK Independence Party), during his speech at the UKIP party conference, held at Central Hall in Westminster, London.

Nearly a quarter of Conservative councillors would back an electoral pact with the UK Independence Party at the general election, according to a new poll.

A minority of Conservative councillors would do a deal with Ukip to beat Labour the new BBC data has suggested, while it was revealed a fraction of Tories also believe they will lose votes over gay marriage.

The news comes as The Independent revealed since 2010, 14 major Tory donors have switched to give £500,000 to Ukip.

News of the donor-defectors to Ukip emerged on the eve of the Tory party conference, launching in Manchester today.

The number of individual donors to the Tories overall has halved since the election, while the average donation has decreased by £14,000, the newspaper reported.

According to the ComRes study for BBC One's Sunday Politics some 23% of Tories on councils across England and Wales believe that most local voters view David Cameron as arrogant while just 26% agree that he is seen as in touch with ordinary people,

It found only 22% think the Prime Minister listens to the views of the party's grassroots and the same amount support the idea of a deal with Ukip in 2015.

Most councillors backed Mr Cameron's overall approach, with 62% agreeing he has the right ideas for Britain, 61% believing he is a good leader and 57% saying he is trustworthy.

The majority expect the PM's push to legalise gay marriage will hit the Tories at the ballot box, however, and 62% are against the Government's commitment to pledge 0.7% of GDP to international aid.

William Hague today ruled out any electoral pact saying the Tories "don't make pacts with other parties" and instead issued a caution to wavering supporters that they risked letting Labour into power.

Cameron has already ruled out the possibility of the Conservative party forming a pact with UKIP.

While admitting it has been "a tough three years", Mr Cameron said the government is "on the right track".

Farage has also said it was "extremely unlikely" that Ukip would form an electoral pact with the Conservatives at the next election.

He said: "We're our own party with our own agenda. We are diametrically opposed to the Tories.

But a number of high profile Conservatives have floated the possibility of an alliance with Ukip in the run up to the election to avoid splitting the right-wing vote, including Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Earlier this week he suggested that Nigel Farage's party would expect to get some MPs out of any deal, which he suggested was "likely" to be discussed next year.

"I'm not going to say which of my friends I think should make way for Ukip," he told Channel 4 News.

"Potentially some, some... Ukip would expect to get some members of parliament out of this, yes, yes, of course."

He added: "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 Farage could be Deputy prime minister in a Tory-Ukip coalition.

Earlier this week, 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."

Responding to the BBC poll, a Tory source said: "80 per cent of our councillors didn't respond to this survey so it's hardly representative. It should be taken with a large pinch of salt."

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