Eurosceptic Conservatives threaten to join UKIP
Eurosceptic Tories warn Cameron to set out ‘vision’ for future of Europe now – or risk losing seats to Ukip
Calls for a ‘radical renegotiation’ of European membership
Fear that 2017 referendum on Europe could in in ‘out’ vote
Ukip expected to ‘do well’ in next year’s elections
Tory MPs Michael Fabricant and backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg want an electoral pact with Ukip
By JASON GROVES
PUBLISHED: 19:47, 27 September 2013 | UPDATED: 10:23, 28 September 2013
Eurosceptic Tory MPs are warning David Cameron to set out a detailed ‘vision’ for the future of Europe now – or risk losing seats to Ukip in next year’s European parliament elections.
Earlier this year the Prime Minister promised an in/out referendum on in 2017, after renegotiating the terms of Britain’s EU membership.
The warnings will alarm Downing Street. One Government source said: ‘There is an issue of expectation management. Some people are just not being realistic and that is potentially a problem down the track.’
Graham Brady, chairman of the powerful 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, urged the Prime Minister to spell out plans for a ‘radical renegotiation’ ahead of next year’s elections in May.
‘We’ve been very clear that the public will have the final say about whether what we negotiate is acceptable or not, but I think it’s essential to be up-front and clear,’ he said.
‘If we don’t achieve quite a radical renegotiation of our relationship with the European Union, the likelihood of the British public choosing to leave is much greater.’
The UK Independence Party is widely expected to do well in next year’s elections, with even European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso predicting the anti-EU party will top the polls in Britain.
Tory MP Peter Bone said: ‘It is not enough to just say we are going to renegotiate, we need to have a detailed vision. If there is a vacuum Ukip will just say we’re not serious.’
Some Tory MPs, such as vice-chairman Michael Fabricant and backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg, want an electoral pact with Ukip.
But a YouGov poll yesterday found that a quarter of Conservative supporters would boycott the party if it formed a pact with Ukip.
And only 56 per cent of Ukip voters would vote Conservative if a deal was agreed.
The result would mean that the Conservatives would barely do any better if they teamed up with Ukip.