Losing the upcoming by-election triggered by Ukip defector Mark Reckless could actually be a good thing for the Conservative Party, veteran Tory David Davis has claimed.
Speaking on the fringes of the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham on Monday afternoon, the former Tory leadership candidate said losing Rochester and Strood would help the party win the 2015 general election in eight months time. Davis said he expected the split in the centre-right vote in the seat would likely let in Labour, and thereby prove the point to voters that if they vote for Nigel Farage they would get Ed Miliband. "I do not think Reckless will win, I don't think he has the personal following [Douglas] Carswell has," he said.
"We are going to have an object lesson in what happens if you vote Ukip. You may deny the Tory the seat but you actually get Labour," he said. "That may not be a wholly bad thing." Davis told Tory activists that while it may "surprise" them to hear him suggesting a Labour by-election victory would be preferable to a Tory one, he said it "may well prove a point for us".
"When this happens, if it does happen, you must strain every sinew to let every newspaper reporter you talk to, every journalist you talk to, and every wavering supporter you talk to, know that," he said.
Davis added that his belief that a vote for Ukip at the general election would put Miliband in Downing Street was why he did not have "any truck with doing a deal with Ukip.
Rumours have been swirling around the Conservative Party's conference that another Tory MP is on the verge of defecting. With Dudley MP Chris Kelly's currently at the top of the list of suspects. However Davis said he did not think "there is anybody proposing to defect".
Asked what he would do to any of his Conservative colleagues to persuade them not to jump ship, were he still a party Whip, Davis replied: "Today of course torture is illegal."
However he acknowledged that the policy programme of the coalition government led by David Cameron "worry Tory MPs" and was the cause of the two defections that have already happened.