I’ve just spoken to Grant Shapps, who was pretty unequivocal about the chances of the Tories and UKIP teaming up in 2015. ‘No,’ he told me. ‘There will be no pact with UKIP.’ Michael Fabricant might have thought he was being helpful when he suggested the Tories engineer a pact with UKIP, but his discussion paper (which you can read in full here), has now been rejected by both parties.
Meanwhile, Nigel Farage and his deputy Paul Nuttall have been doing the rounds on the airwaves, and have rather upped their price for any co-operation between the two parties. Nuttall told BBC News:
‘It would be difficult for UKIP to talk to the Conservative party whilst David Cameron is still their leader. I mean, this is a guy, don’t forget, who described us as being closet racists, so I think it would be awfully difficult for us to speak to them whilst he is in the helm. Let’s make it clear on this point.’
Cameron isn’t attempting any sort of reconciliation on that point, either. When his official spokesman briefed journalists this morning, he said that ‘he stands by the comments’ that he made in 2006 about the party. Farage, meanwhile, suggested on the Daily Politics that he’d like to work with someone ‘pragmatic’, like Michael Gove: one of the Cabinet members keen for Britain to leave the EU.