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Eurosceptic camp ‘weakened’ by Carswell defection

28 August 2014

Douglas Carswell’s defection today to Ukip is terrible for David Cameron. But it is also deeply inconvenient for his band of eurosceptic brothers. He was a key member of a powerful ‘cell’ of MPs who met regularly to discuss strategies for pushing the Conservative leadership further on European policy.

One key colleague in this cell tells me that its members are as shocked as anyone else by the defection because ‘Douglas was refusing to get involved in our shenanigans. It was difficult to get him to sign off on anything we wanted to do, he was incredibly loyal, so something serious must have happened over the summer to change his mind.’

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Carswell certainly hinted at conversations with the Prime Minister’s advisers that may have changed his mind. He had declared his loyalty to Cameron after the Prime Minister said he would pursue the EU referendum bill (#letbritaindecide). But he said today that the advisers had said they would only get what was sufficient in terms of reform, rather than being ambitious. This illustrates the danger for the Prime Minister of setting out any detail of what he wants from a renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with Europe, but as I say in this week’s Spectator, it is that detail, rather than a new threatening tone, that other eurosceptic MPs want.

But what happens to that eurosceptic cause now? They had been discussing how to get more detail out of the Prime Minister, and presumably Carswell had been a block to any ‘shenanigans’ on this. But just because he has left the building and seriously shaken up the Tories, it doesn’t mean that Carswell’s defection is helpful to the eurosceptic cause. ‘He was one of the Bolsheviks,’ says his campaigning colleague. ‘And it’s going to be more difficult to push the eurosceptic line in our party.’

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  • global city

    The deluded ones are those true sceptics who think that they can turn their party into a party of ‘Out’…it is an absurd delusion, one that has disabled the ‘Out’ community for decades.

    leave it to us blue sceptics they have said, we”’ get us out…as the EU ships carries on to it’s destination.

  • cromwell

    “Eurosceptic camp ‘weakened’ by Carswell defection” You wish.

  • whs1954

    Let’s say for the purposes of argument Cameron & Co have decided to get a cosmetic renegotiation with the EU – to paper over some cracks, then paint it to the public as worth staying in for.

    If they had decided on that – dastardly a scheme as it is – why would they then go and tell Douglas Carswell about such a scheme? Plainly, they would not.

    • itdoesntaddup

      However, they would wish to console the Europhiles. News travels.

  • Dougie

    Excuse me for being sceptical, but could Carswell’s decision have anything to do with Tory Party research that indicated Clacton was the most “kippy constituency in the country”?

    • starfish

      It may be the most kippy constituency but it voted Carswell in with a whopping majority
      Is suspect his EU views are part of the reason (and why UKIP did not stand against him at the last GE)

  • Colonel Mustard

    The term “Eurosceptic” is not just well past its sell by date it is redundant.

    You cannot be “sceptical” of Europe now. You can however reject the EU super state and refuse to be part of its puppet government. But you need to be in a different political party to the Conservatives.

    “Tory Eurosceptic” = “I don’t really like the EU’s plans but I’m going along with them reluctantly – or pretending that I am” = Quisling = Vichy.

    • lakelander

      How about “Eurofusenik”?

      I can see myself as one of those.

      • Colonel Mustard

        It’s good but it’s not Carling.

        Any term with “Euro” allows the reds to infer xenophobia or anti-European sentiments. The problem is not Europe but the EU, the European Union, as a political entity. So perhaps “EUfusenik”?

  • blingmun

    Isabel doesn’t seem to grasp that we are not voting UKIP in order to shift the Tories a little bit closer to our own point of view. In order to restore democracy and national sovereignty we believe it is necessary that the Conservative Party be destroyed. We will succeed.

  • bugalugs2

    ” it’s going to be more difficult to push the eurosceptic line in our party.’”

    Given that in forty years of supposedly pushing the eurosceptic line Tory eurosceptics have achieved precisely nothing in their party, so what?

  • Steve Lloyd

    I wonder if Carswells defection is part of a wider plot to usurp Dave?

    • Colonel Mustard

      Hope so.

  • ScaryBiscuits

    Isabel, How does a dramatic rise in the popularity of UKIP and the prospect of their first MP weaken the Eurosceptic cause, either inside or outside of the Conservative party? Are you suggesting that losing to UKIP is going to make the Tories even more Europhile?

  • The Commentator

    The Tories are finished as a political party. They haven’t won a commons majority since 1992 and they won’t get one in 2015. As a consequence it is inevitable that both politicians and voters begin to explore successor parties, of which UKIP is of course the leading one. Presumably after another humiliating defeat in 2015 what remains of the Tory party will merge with the Lib Dems so they can limp into political obscurity together.

    • ScaryBiscuits

      The failure of the Conservatives to provide a any opposition in large swathes of the country are another reason why Labour has got away with governing cess pits of depravity like Rotherham for so long. UKIP are now the only realistic opposition party in many parts of the country both in the north (against Labour) and the south (v the Tories). UKIP got more votes than the Conservatives in Bracknell in last year’s Euro elections, for example.
      All that remains to be seen is if the Tories collapse suddenly like they did in Canada or gradually like the Liberals in the UK a century ago.

  • Radford_NG

    Carswell’s full statement is at

    • Peter Stroud

      And it is well worth listening to. Cameron has failed to reform politics as he promised, and that’s it.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Calling a faction of the Tory party the Eurosceptic camp is like suggesting that Tony Blair’s Labour party were free marketeers. If Izzy wants to know who the real Eurosceptic camp are its UKIP and Carswell has decided to stop pretending to be a Eurosceptic and become a real Eurosceptic. We welcome him.

    Its is so sad to watch the Tories collapse into self absorbed narcissism over such matters as is currently happening. Not everything revolves around how it relates to the Westminster Tory party. The weakening of the Tories impotent Euroscepticism is not a weakening of Euroscepticism more generally. That one of the true Eurosceptics within the Tory party has now joined the fight properly strengthens the wider cause and that the Tories faux triangulated offering is weakened strengthens it further

  • Torybushhug

    This is the inflection point where British politics changes for good.
    This life long Tory is switching to UKIP come what may, time to put conviction first and hope others follow.
    Immigration is ruining my nation, the numbers alone make life so much less tolerable.

  • kyalami

    Should Carswell fail to win in the bye-election, I hope he will stand in my constituency at the GE.

  • swatnan

    Its an odd move by Carswell and demonstrates opportunism , no doubt egged on by that cheeky chappie Banker Nige. Its a waste of money, but this swivel eyed loon will be joining the fruitcakes in UKIP, and should be joined by Bonkers Boris and Dishy Nadine and Bill Cash. Clacton itself is a dump.I was therefor the Airshow last week; tnhe Puier is just a jetty and the the whole town looks very seedy. Now compare that with southend which is a far more attractive town with great regeneration and the Kids rides and amusement arcades are welcoming. So, what did Carswell ever do for Clacton?

    • Denis_Cooper

      I didn’t bother to read beyond “Banker Nige”, on the assumption that all the rest would be lies as well.

    • Steve Lloyd

      Hurt feelinsg and sour grapes. There there.

    • Jerome Leroy

      Oh why do swivel eyed loons scare you so? are you against the mentally challenged? bigot.

  • fathomwest

    What Miss Hardman is overlooking are the views of the membership and voters. It does not matter if she believes the Conservative Euro Sceptics in Parliament have been weakened. The fact remains is that they are all cowardly custards and will be seen as such by their constituents.
    Douglas Carswell is a courageous man and more importantly honourable by resigning his seat.
    He has shown, in a very dramatic and timely manner, that he has no confidence in the ‘promised’ referendum by the man who has welshed the people of this country twice.
    Those weakened Eurosceptic MP’s should oppose Cameron without delay or do what Mr Carswell has done and show some guts.
    It is time for these people to put Country before Cameron.

  • Tim Reed

    “But he said today that the advisers had said they would only get what
    was sufficient in terms of reform, rather than being ambitious.”

    That’s the problem, encapsulated in a single quote. Cameron’s Conservatives are more interested in not rocking the boat than in the interests of the nation’s sovereignty.

    • Dogzzz

      UKIP must also defend our shores from another threat. That of radical Islam. UKIP will not stand back, or turn a blind eye, or worse, actively appease racist Islamic gang rape of children, as labour and tory alike have done, and continue to do.

      We face the threats from Islam and from the EU. Tory and labour appease both.

      • Conway

        UKIP wants an end to political correctness.

  • ButcombeMan


    You have the word “weakened” in quotation marks.

    Show me who said it and I will show you a desperate fool.

    Let us hope that more, move across.

    Cameron is destroying the Tories.

    • Magnolia

      Agreed, this is what happens when we have a Blairite modern liberal (Cameron) trying to lead a Conservative Party.
      The two things are not compatible and were bound to fall apart eventually.

  • Colonel Mustard

    The ‘powerful cell’ need to get out too. Cameron has wrecked the Tory party with his wishy washy appeasement of reds and continuation of their God-awful policies.

    • Dogzzz

      Has he condemned Labour’s implementation of a policy of appeasement of racist mass gang rapes of children in Rotherham yet? I have not seen it if he has. I guess we are to conclude from his silence over the biggest national issue over the past 3 days, that he tacitly supported the politically correct appeasement of the mass racist and brutal gang raping of children. After all, according to the policies as actually implemented in reality, critisicing any aspect of Islam was a worse crime than raping children. When children were actually being raped, and the police arrested the victims!

      This should not be construed as political point scoring, but solely as looking for a safe party to vote for in order to positively express the huge mountain of justifiable rage at the failure in policy implementation of labour’s child protection policy in Rotherham and elsewhere which was to wilfully appease mass racist gang rape of children. I want to vote for whichever party will take this seriously and end it. for a party with the courage to take on these vile, anti-British monoculturalists, These racists, these people who have no intention at all to integrate and live by the rules of tolerance and British Law. So far, only UKIP have put up anyone to condemn this and call for mass arrests, and that person was their “communities” spokesman, who himself is Muslim. But unlike those who desire a Monocultural Islamic Caliphate in the UK, this gentleman is in favour of integration, not segregation.

      This all happened under labour and tory governments and with their knowlege. Now it has finally, (after the arrests of whistle-blowers), been “officially” acknowleged in the legacy, or elite, or mainstream media, yet NOTHING is still being done about it.

      Not a single person fired. Nobody prosecuted. No independent Judge led inquiry. NOTHING.

      We can ONLY conclude from such that tory and labour alike, are not interested in stopping violent, racist, Islamic gang rape of children, which is ongoing in towns and cities UK wide.

      We have no choice anymore. We all MUST vote UKIP, or accept that sacrificing our children is the price we must pay for the lefty progressive liberal version of multicultural enrichment.

      • Colonel Mustard

        “…he tacitly supported the politically correct appeasement…”

        Of course he did. He is a patron of Common Purpose and a supporter of UAF, he allowed Grieve to keep the extremist cultural revolutionary Starmer in post and he protected Nicholson over Mid-Staffs. He might fight Miliband over the bean counting but he never fights over culture. He never purged Labour’s unelected shadow government.

        A few years back he repudiated multi-culturalism and yet his wet Tory mates are still using that thoroughly discredited term to describe this country.

  • lojolondon

    Well, if Tories are going to find it hard to stand against the EU now with Dougie gone, they will need to man up – either Tories have to start doing what their constituents want, or start looking for another job! Go Douglas, go UKIP.

    • Dogzzz

      The tories still have one last chance, but it requires the sacking of Cameron and his entire Cabinet of left wing appeasers of the EU and Muslim child rapists.

  • Denis_Cooper

    “But he said today that the advisers had said they would only get what was sufficient in terms of reform, rather than being ambitious.”

    Well, that’s been blindingly obvious to many of us for a long time now.

    Open Europe have even gone through what Cameron said he wanted point by point examining how he might be able to claim that he had got enough “reform” without the need for any treaty change.

    Which was actually the starting point proposed by the Foreign Office and accepted by the Wilson government in 1974, that there should be no attempt to renegotiate the Treaty of Rome but instead the UK government should propose some minor and temporary changes within the existing treaty which could then be blown up as being major concessions during the referendum campaign.

    • Blindsideflanker

      Indeed, from Cameron’s lame objection to Lisbon, where they couldn’t decide what they were against, and after it when Cameron said he wouldn’t let matters rest there, but did just that.

  • Earlshill

    Carswell has acted in the best interests of his constituents and the wider public. That is all that matters.

    • starfish

      Maybe that is why Isabel Hardman finds it difficult to understand
      Seems to me that Carswell, who has consistently argued for greater democracy and rolling back EU bureaucracy has given up on Cameron’s ability to deliver any reform
      Or maybe he just does not believe his heart is in it….

      • YahYah

        Is Ukip able to deliver reform? That must be why he defected, right? He wanted to wield real power and influence. Government is so yesterday, it’s all about silent voices now.

        • Denis_Cooper

          Only an idiot continues to vote for a party which has clearly demonstrated that it does not have his interests at heart.

        • starfish

          Is the conservative party lead by Cameron able or willing to deliver reform?
          Clearly Carswell has come to the conclusion that it cannot

          • Denis_Cooper

            Most important is his lack of will, Cameron has never taken the lead but has always resisted until forced to give way.

          • YahYah

            It’s irrelevant. He will hold the referendum, and we will almost certainly be leaving the EU in that case. The Europeans want us out, we don’t really want to stay that much, and David Cameron really doesn’t care.

            • Denis_Cooper

              “He will hold the referendum”

              Nobody can state even that with any certainty, but if he did hold a referendum his plan would be to copy Wilson; then it would not be irrelevant, it would make a huge difference, that his heart is really with the EU and not with us.

              • Inverted Meniscus

                You don’t have to believe what he says or vote as he recommends just as long as we get the chance to vote for leaving the accursed EU. I want whoever will deliver that opportunity and I ain’t gonna get with Ed in Downing Street am I?

                • Denis_Cooper

                  Unfortunately many people will believe what he says, just as people were taken in by that other shyster Wilson in 1975.

                • Inverted Meniscus

                  Agreed. You are absolutely right but would still rather have the chance to vote than not.

            • Dougie

              Despite what the vocal community of Eurosceptic bloggers might wish to be the truth, the fact is that polling indicates the electorate would vote to stay in.


          • Inverted Meniscus

            Fair comment but over to you Ed and Ed.

        • Dogzzz

          The really depressing fact is that the tories are the only party who could ever have delivered real reform of the sort that is very very necessary now, and instead of that reform, they choose to suck up to, and constantly strengthen through appeasement, the twin threats to the fabric of the UK which come from the EU and militant Islam.

          If you are a traditional aspirational working class voter, or a voter with any right wing beliefs (I know, a crime worse than gang raping children apparently), who are you supposed to vote for? Y’know, if you are not a liberal left wing appeaser of Islamic rapists that is? WHO can you vote for to get an honest EU all the way in, or all the way out referendum?

          Where are Cameron’s words of condemnation over the deliberate labour policy as implemented in Rotherham of appeasing racist rapists of children by the hundred? Oh he dare not upset the racist paedophile vote, lest he be called a racist, because according to the actual actions of those liberal lefties like him, merely saying something which upsets or offends a Muslim, is a far greater crime than the brutally violent gang rape of hundreds of children. Telling one racist joke can get you sacked. Protecting Muslims who raped hundreds of children got them promoted. Those are the actual policy rules under tories and labour. Cameron has done NOTHING about this liberal left appeasement of people who hate us and want us converted or dead.

          On the EU and on immigration and on Politically correct multiculturalism which does NOT support integration and harmony, but instead encourages ghettoisation and division and the appeasment and protection of brutal racist rape gangs, there is no significant difference AT ALL between labour and tory.

          Who do you vote for if you want a change, when the indisputable fact is, that ONLY UKIP are willing to offer, let alone implement, that change.

          Voting tory or labour is voting for more EU, more immigration and yes, even more of the currently on-going racist child rape that continues in towns and cities across this country. Rotherham is the tip of the iceberg.

      • Mynydd

        So why did he stand as a Conservative in 2010, Mr Cameron hasn’t changed, he his the same now as he was then.

        • Colonel Mustard

          No he’s not. He broke most of his promises. Check his pre-election speeches and the Coalition agreement.

    • John Dalton

      With the news that immigration is rocketing upwards – rather than the radical reduction we were promised

      • telemachus

        I too hope Carswell is not the last
        This is the Major Government over again
        This time however thirteen years will not be the limit of the ensuing victory of the forces of reason
        I look to the glorious twenties leading to a truly egalitarian Britain in the thirties after which the the Caring Party will be the permanent Party of Government

        • Adam Carter

          How effective was the ‘Caring Party’ in looking after vulnerable giirls in Rotheram?

          • Colonel Mustard

            Please ignore him. Don’t give the oxygen thief oxygen. He is here only to provoke and disrupt.

          • telemachus

            Who Knew?
            Who believed?
            The retrospectascope is a wonderful thing

          • whs1954

            What does it matter, how effective they are? All it needs is Tories deciding Cameron isn’t 100% perfect, and voting UKIP to spite him, and you will have “the Caring Party” (sic) as the permanent party of Government, just as Telemachus says, whether you like it or not. Telemachus, moron that he is, will be laughing at you for twenty years or more. And the “Tories aren’t perfect so am voting UKIP” brigade will deserve it.

    • Mynydd

      Not so Mr Carswell has acted in his own best interests. There was a strong possibility that he would have lost his seat to UKIP in the 2015 general election, so he jumped before was kicked out.

      • blingmun

        His won his seat with a 12,000 majority and he’s one of the most famously Eurosceptic Members of Parliament.

        You must be expecting a UKIP landslide if you think majorities like that are likely to be turned around.

      • morbidfascination

        Nonsense – UKIP would never have stood against him, election pact or not.

    • Inverted Meniscus

      I’m not sure that hastening the arrival of Ed Miliband and his coterie of socialist lunatics into Downing Street is necessarily in the best interests of his constituents or wider public. Perhaps it would happen anyway. Labour voters are, after all, mindless, stupid and forgetful enough to return those maniacs to power. Also, we may go from having a faint chance of an in/out referendum to no chance at all under Miliband. Before you return to me with a stream of invective, I admire what Carswell has done albeit a pretty violent volte face and wish UKIP well although I am not a supporter. This seems a principled move by Carswell who I admire as a clear thinker on Europe and other issues butbInfearvthevconsequences of this and similar moves in the future. Edited to correct some abysmal typing.

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