Coffee House

MP who discussed defection with Ukip tells Coffee House: I couldn’t trust Farage

27 February 2014

The Telegraph’s Chris Hope has a very interesting interview with Ukip Treasurer Stuart Wheeler in which he says seven Tory MPs had lunch with him to discuss a possible defection to the party. Wheeler says these talks took place more than a year ago, and since then the excitement about possible defections has clearly died down.

Why aren’t Tory MPs interested any more in defections? I’ve spoken in private to most of the MPs who held talks with Wheeler – and some with Nigel Farage too – and most of them say they feel there is still a good chance of their party winning in 2015, and that David Cameron’s EU referendum pledge did give them hope that he was finally listening to them. This was something Farage accepted when I spoke to him earlier this month. He said:

‘If Cameron hadn’t delivered the referendum pledge then there is no doubt there were a number that were going to come and he did just enough.’

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The Prime Minister has also tried to improve relations with his backbenchers, while Lynton Crosby has given MPs a campaigning zeal and a clear message to shout. This means that some of those possible defectors are much more pro-Cameron than they were a year ago.

But I’m not sure it’s just the Tory party’s improving fortunes that dampened the enthusiasm of possible defectors. There’s a possibility that Farage himself was a deal-breaker, too. One of those who held talks tells me:

‘When I looked Farage in the eyes, eyeball to eyeball, I felt this was a person I could not trust and do business with.’

Others turned down the chance to meet Farage after lunching with Wheeler, feeling this would be a betrayal of their party. But it’s interesting that the Ukip leader, so charismatic in public, wasn’t able to convince backbenchers of his trustworthiness in private.

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Show comments
  • Conway

    … most of them say they feel there is still a good chance of their party
    winning in 2015, and that David Cameron’s EU referendum pledge did give
    them hope that he was finally listening to them.
    ” Delusional on both counts, then.

  • global city

    Another negative inference piece.

    Isabel. You disappoint so!

    If any Tory MP was influenced by ‘trust’ he would not be an MP, would certainly not stay with Cameron. So, Cameron a trustworthy man of honour, while Farage is revealed to be a snake oil salesman… Hmmmnnnnnn…. which claim seems most authentic?

    You should have checked for obvious internal contradictions that makes this an entirely concocted piece, or you have been used as a patsy in the latest bit of the old dark arts.

    Has anybody else said that Farage cannot be trusted and that this is so bad that you can actually see this in his eyes?

    Sounds like you should be writing cowboy novels… I believe that they sell rather well in places.

  • OriginalChris

    I suggest you look at the D Tel link on Why people support UKIP – they are collecting short videoclips of individuals to try to assess what it is about UKIP that turns people on. Very interesting indeed. Seems there is no problem with people not trusting Farage, Ms Hardman. The opposite seems to be the case, actually.

  • 47509

    “When I looked Farage in the eyes, eyeball to eyeball, I felt this was a person I could not trust and do business with.”

    Let’s get this straight. This anonymous Tory trots along to UKIP with the intention of becoming a turncoat against his/her own party, then tells us that Farage is not a man to be trusted?

    I’m sorry Isabel, but if you intend to continue writing smears against UKIP you really will have to up your game. Only someone extremely hard of thinking would be influenced by this article.

  • Rockin Ron

    Are we really to believe that wavering Tories looked at Farage and decided they could not trust him, but on the flimsy promise of a referendum, they were persuaded by Cameron? If that is true these seven should be dubbed The Seven Suckers.

  • John_Page

    Of course Farage is not to be trusted. Whoever imagined otherwise?

  • McQueue

    People intending to jump ship on the party banner they were elected under, and you somehow question Farage’s trustworthiness because these people considering treachery against their party felt untrusting? Really? But this insinuation based on highly questionable third parties isn’t some kind of weird……. bias?

  • kyalami

    “most of them say they feel there is still a good chance of their party winning in 2015”

    Then what they are smoking ain’t tobacco.

  • Mike Smithson

    Tory GE 2015 prospects are not improving whatever they say in the Westminster bubble. As long as Labour remains in high 30s the Tories cannot expect to win majority or most seats.

    The hard fact is that the Conservatives need to be 7.3% ahead of LAB before they start taking seats from Miliband’s party

    • ohforheavensake

      Just for those who don’t know: Mike Smithson runs this-

      – So he pretty much knows what he’s talking about.

      • Makroon

        Yeah, Mikey knows his polls, but as a LibDem he must also know that that lot face wipe-out – strange he never mentions that ….

        • the viceroy’s gin

          …so he’s like you Camerluvvies, then?

    • jason green

      Mike, it’s not the BTL commentators that need reminding of these facts. It’s the ABL commentators that seem to be the ones inhabiting some fantasy bubble.

  • Smithersjones2013

    But I’m not sure it’s just the Tory party’s improving fortunes that
    dampened the enthusiasm of possible defectors. There’s a possibility
    that Farage himself was a deal-breaker, too. One of those who held talks
    tells me:

    ‘When I looked Farage in the eyes, eyeball to eyeball, I felt this was a person I could not trust and do business with.’

    Of course he or she did. Name the MP or else it is just a cheap smear. It is clear that the ghosts of Kenny Everett’s characters live on in the offices of the Spectator (‘but only in the best possible taste)…….

  • colliemum

    I love this: “One of those who held talks tells me:
    ‘When I looked Farage in the eyes, eyeball to eyeball, I felt this was a person I could not trust and do business with.’”

    So who is this Tory paragon? His name should be made public, he may get aseat in Cabinet for that!

    If one Tory ‘cannot trust’ Nigel Farage, the rest of the country must immediately follow suit and renounce him forthwith, right?
    When will you lot in Westminster Village get it that we out here can and will make up our own minds, and that we don’t need to be told by our so-called ‘Betters” what to think.

  • callingallcomets

    A lot of us in UKIP are suspicious of defectors, be they MPs or local councillors. There is often a hidden agenda and they usually come with baggage. If they do not have the courage to resign their seat and fight under their new banner I would say to them “thanks but no thanks”

    • Wessex Man

      well said we even had a couple who thought we should have prayers before the committee meetings

    • Makroon

      I think you are right. Who needs nasty outsiders eh ?! And, as for those bloody voters ….

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …spoken like a true Camerloon !

  • Wessex Man

    mmm, so they’ve been talking about defecting and then decided not to, maybe until after the EU elections, mmm maybe Farage should tell people like this just to **** off!

  • Daniel Maris

    “most of them say they feel there is still a good chance of their party winning in 2015” = hanging on to their own constituencies as a Tory but losing if defecting to UKIP.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    Well of course talk of defections has died down. The Cameroons are finished, and everybody knows it. The data is immutable.

    Everybody is just playing out the string, and waiting for the hammer to fall. Things could change, but that would mean Dave would have to disappear first. The useless Camerluvvie lumps are apparently waiting for the voters to do that for them, which they are on course to do.

  • radsatser

    Let’s be honest, the only reason these MP’s haven’t jumped is because they have made a judgement that it is still to their personal advantage to stay loyal.

    I have taken the view for a long time that UKIP shouldn’t give house room to MP defectors, unless they have impeccable historical credentials in supporting the core policy positions of UKIP, and it is no surprise that on their voting records, you can count on the fingers of one hand who that applies to.

    There should be a cut off point the day before the EU elections for any sitting MP defector jumping ship, any Damascene conversions on the back of an EU drubbing should be on the basis that there would be no automatic right to stand in the seat they hold as a UKIP candidate.

    Personally the last type of people we want in UKIP are those who believe in nothing but themselves.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      That’s a principled position, and has merit. This is politics though. Behind the scenes, discussions are taking place, not as the Speccie kid is fantasizing, but real discussions. Members are letting UKIP know what has to take place for them to want to jump ship, and those considerations must be served, to the extent possible, if a move appears advantageous to UKIP.

      It would be foolish for UKIP not to game out all the permutations that defection could bring on. Some of those permutations might be beneficial to their core principles, even if the actors involved are not firmly principled. They can do something, or they can do nothing, following the next event upheaval. They should explore the somethings, even if they ultimately choose to do nothing with them. The somethings merit a disciplined process, at least.

      • radsatser

        I agree to some extent, though what worries me are the chancers we have attracted in the past that have caused real damage, and perhaps more importantly opening us up to ridicule.

        If they are jumping ship from a marginal seat that they are likely to lose anyway, I would question what benefit they would bring to the party, apart from probably alienating Ex Labour or NOTA who might vote for us with a fresh candidate, and who would probably cringe at the thought of helping to re-elect a ‘Tory’. Those in safe seats are not going to move anyway.

        I just see far more negatives than any potential positives.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          I see your point. The risks in many of these cases would far outweigh the opportunities, and at that point you’d have to walk away from the chancers.

          In your first post you mentioned that historical credentials would be an important consideration, and it wouldn’t be too late for the ongoing negotiations to make that point to the potential defectors. They could be encouraged to “make their bones”, “burn their boats”, and otherwise give firm indication that they support UKIP’s core positions. If they do that, it almost doesn’t matter whether they defect, as they’d be doing UKIP’s bidding and voting accordingly. If they’re reelected on that basis, it’s a victory of principle, if not a pure electoral victory.

          Remember, all these MP’s know Dave is history. Even if they aren’t actively seeking to defect, they know change is in the wind. They’ll be blowing in a UKIP direction, even if not part of UKIP. That’s the gaming that should be taking place now. What are the potential environments, and how can UKIP operate within them?

          • Kitty MLB

            They are not going to ‘ burn their boats’ they
            know that Cameron’s days are numbered, he will
            probably lose the election, therefore he will be history,
            and even if he wins ( and not a majority, that will not happen)
            it will be a coalition again , they have said if this happens
            then Cameron will still be history.
            Many cannot stand Cameron, its very unusual for
            MP’s to eave an established party, as you we know.
            We need to rebuild with a new leader.

            • Makroon

              I can’t stand Cameron either (I wasn’t keen on Macmillan, Home, Heath or Major either), but I will still vote Conservative in 2015. They are a shower, but if you care about the country, TINA.

        • Kitty MLB

          You said earlier ‘ Those who have not jumped ship have not done so because its in their interest to stay loyal’
          It doesn’t necessarily mean they are loyal to Cameron,
          they may be loyal to their constituencies.
          They may also know Blair’s little acolytes days are numbered.
          How many ‘ fresh’ candidates do you have in reality
          that have had no connection with the two main parties.

          • radsatser

            I have the greatest respect for people like Philip Hollobone ( Kettering) who is a principled politician. I do admire your confidence in them Kitty, but when the majority applauded and supported David Cameron with his fake referendum pledge, they know deep down where their bread is buttered. They are in the main party animals on a gravy train, and the main concern of most of them, is keeping the gravy flowing for themselves, not their constituents concerns..

            When I talk about fresh, I am talking about professional career poltiicians, principally MP’s, but with some MEP’s, I don’t really have a problem with local level politicians switching.

            To the voting public and certainly to the NOTA, considerable numbers would see UKIP supporting an ex Tory MP as a valid reason for not supporting UKIP. If it boils down to keeping an ex Tory trougher in a job, against alienating a couple of hundred people who might vote for you, then the peoples votes are more important.

            • Kitty MLB

              I have no confidence in them ( There is someone else with
              a similar name to you from Con Home)
              Phil Kean will know who I mean when he turns up.
              some are fine but the majority are the same cloned, egotistical serpents in the grass, and I know the
              referendum was a fig leaf to see off Farage, as well
              as blackmail . Yet I do believe there are some decent
              ones who Cameron probably keeps locked in the commons
              these are the people such as David Davis and others who
              people know and respect in the same way as they do
              Frank Field from labour, will they actually know
              this UKIP person, good Luck anyway, we do need UKIP.

              • radsatser

                Hi Kitty,
                I am the Raddy from Conhome, I just haven’t got around to changing my moniker on Disqus.

                I haven’t been posting as often on ConHome these days, went on yesterday and all my post are now blocked. It would seem they are quietly excluding the long term Kipper posters on there. Anybody would think there was an election coming up :-)

                • Kitty MLB

                  I Knew they were doing that, Raddy,
                  people did not seem to want to believe me
                  and not just kippers, grass root Conservatives also.
                  It will soon be a very empty place indeed if only Malcolm D,
                  ETA, Sally and Peter B can post.
                  I am boycotting the place, but miss the old comrades.
                  Its ok here, they do not police your posts, the range of articles are excellent, they are fine with free speech and the people are very-
                  mind you Viceroy is convinced that I am a socialist- the mind

                • radsatser

                  Yep you mentioned it to me after I had been absent for a few days and missed it happening.

                  I suppose we all had a good run on there, and we certainly give them some stick whilst it lasted. It does not bode well for them, that they are now only listening to each other.

                  Not listening to others has been there problem for years.

                  Nice to touch base again Kitty, hope you are keeping well!

                • Kitty MLB

                  Oh, I was not having a dig at you Raddy,
                  you were not around to see what was going on
                  but others were. Sorry if I got my wording wrong,
                  they don’t listen and I become muddled mouthed.

                • OriginalChris

                  Same happened to me Raddy, a few weeks ago.

                • radsatser

                  Hi Chris, its like home from home here. Sounds like desperation is setting in over there, shutting down contrary opinion seems like a last desperate act.

                • OriginalChris

                  I feel very strongly that those at the other site seem to be determined to “craft” the opinion of the website, and it seems to be those who represent grassroots who are being struck off. I tended to back up what I said with evidence/links to other websites, including EU ones, and this may have upset someone. Very unhealthy, I would suggest. Looking today at the website, it seems that there are a lot of “new” names.

                • radsatser

                  It was ever thus mate.
                  It is interesting that they only appear to be forcing Kippers and disillusioned Conservatives off the site, a lot of the new names are lefties. Interestingly it appears they are banning people by their username name rather than their IP address as there are a couple who appear to have got back on by registering with a new user name. Not worth the effort in my opinion, better left to their introspection.

                • OriginalChris

                  Thanks, Radsatser. Can you still rate comments and take part in the surveys? That seems to be possible still.

      • Makroon

        Ha-ha, a “disciplined process” eh !? This is control-freak Farage and his play-toy party we are talking about here, Oh expat plotter.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Gosh, you certainly seem terrified of UKIP, lad, what with your spending all this time and trouble disparaging them.

  • an ex-tory voter

    I have never looked David Cameron in the eyes, eyeball to eyeball. Nevertheless I know beyond doubt that he is not a person I could trust and do business with and his public record confirms it.

    • WatTylersGhost

      Today’s horrendous immigration figures bear out your assessment.

      • Holly

        Horrendous BS figures on net migration tells us nowt, so get angry at something real….
        IF you can get any real info on anything these days.

    • Alexsau91

      Difference is Nigel Farage IS UKIP, David Cameron is not the Conservative Party. If UKIP lose Nigel, they lose their best and only real asset. If the Conservatives lose Cameron they have the opertunity to elect someone better.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        UKIP is grassroots, as you should know. The Camerluvvies are a bubble construct, busily destroying the grassroots. Your statements couldn’t be more wrong.

        Grassroots don’t go away. Londonistan bubble denizens will, in the face of the grassroots.

      • Raddiy


  • James Allen

    Er… Isabel…. the testimony of turncoats (potential or otherwise) has itself rarely been considered trustworthy. You expect us to form a negative opinion of Farage based on these “rumours”????

    • Noa

      The Judas who looked into Nigel Farage’s eyes forgets that he was also being judged by him at the same time.

      Do you think Farage would have found him trustworthy?

      “…Brutus says he was ambitious;
      And, sure, he is an honourable man.
      I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
      But here I am to speak what I do know.
      You all did love him once, not without cause…”

      • dalai guevara

        …you know how that little story ends don’t you?

        • Doggie Roussel

          If only !

          • dalai guevara

            I swear to God, it ends in tears!

  • Kitty MLB

    Why do you keep showing the same cartoon that makes
    Nigel Farage look like a psychotic Cromwell, he does not want to
    destroy our parliament, ( I am not a kipper, but I shall defend them)
    he just wishes to make it more democratic and to represent us, unlike
    the clones fools that occupy it ( especially the Lib Dums and Labour)
    Why is the unelected pantomime horse needed to give politicians
    ‘ campaigning zeal and a new message to shout’
    As the MP for Shipley said of Thatcher: ‘ I felt in my bones that she was right’
    If they do not think that about Cameron, and they do not,
    the electorate will see right through them.

    • Makroon

      Ha-ha, Kitty you are right, it’s a crap cartoon – no wit or cunning.
      I don’t like Gerald Scarfe, his cartoons always seem strangely pointless, but to be fair, he has Farage off to a tee – a chinless wonder always grinning and he-hawing !

  • well_chuffed

    If they feel they can’t trust Farage then how on earth can they trust Cameron. He will say anything to cling on to power and then do the exact opposite. No idea if Farage is trustworthy or not but he cannot possibly be as devious as call me dave. The bottom line is a trustworthy politician is an oxymoron.

    • Makroon

      Easy one. Cameron may well be “dodgy”, but he isn’t a free agent. He has a heavyweight party behind him which will take just so much “freewheeling” before they bring him back into line. Farage is a one-man show, erratic and capricious.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Yes, your boy Call Me Dave is incapable of “freewheeling” away from LibLabCon orthodoxy. That’s why his head is going to be mounted on a spike, 14.25 months from now.

  • Trapnel

    Lib Lab Con smear machine in full throttle. Don’t worry there will not be much of a Tory party left after it gets mangled in the rapidly approaching event horizon.

  • WatTylersGhost

    “most of them say they feel there is still a good chance of their party winning in 2015”
    Well those Tory MPs who are more interested in power than in policy are best kept a long way from UKIP.

  • Jez

    And of course Westminster is jam packed full of exceptionally trustworthy & selfless personalities.

    • Hello

      Well, quite. So it doesn’t say much for Farage that even they can’t trust him.

      • Jez

        That’s very clever. Well done.

        • Hello

          Thanks, pumpkin.

          • Jez

            Np x

          • Wessex Man

            well it is for you.

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