Top Tory defects to UKIP
Posted by Ian at 7 51 PM on Saturday, March 28
THE Tories’ top donor last night blasted David Cameron and sensationally defected to the euro-sceptic UK Independence Party.
In a humiliating body blow, spread-betting millionaire Stuart Wheeler wrote a cheque for £100,000 to UKIP.
And he said he will be voting for them in the June Euro elections. He told the News of the World Brussels is a bigger threat to Britain than the economic crisis and he is fed up with leader Cameron’s decision to ignore it.
He said: “The EU is doing so much damage to our economy and way of life that I can no longer vote Conservative at the European elections.
“The Conservatives, though perhaps more eurosceptic than Labour, just wish no one would talk about the EU so that they can win the general election in peace.”
In 2000 Mr Wheeler gave the Tories £5million, their biggest single donation. He has continued to back them since, but has become increasingly angry at Mr Cameron.
He now says he has serious doubts that the Tory leader will carry out his promise to hold a referendum on the EU Constitutional Treaty.
And he thinks British voters still believe Britain’s future in Europe is a major issue. Mr Wheeler added: “My doubts about his commitment to doing anything effective were increased this week when I was told that he had got 70 Conservative MPs together and told them the EU issue did not matter!
“It fits in with what a great many people believe to be his attitude. Furthermore he forbade two eurosceptic MPs from speaking at a fringe meeting at the party conference last year.
“He simply must stick to the commitment he gave.”
Mr Wheeler said he was backing UKIP because their position was clear, and warned the Tories they are missing votes because they are down playing Europe.
He said: “The public know that the EU is incompetent, ineffective, hidebound and riven with fraud but the current political class in Westminster don’t want to talk about it. I believe that millions of people want a say on the matter, and by voting UKIP they can be heard.”
Mr Wheeler’s decision means Mr Cameron may have to expel one of his biggest financial backers 15 months before a possible General Election. The millionaire says he plans to remain a member of the Tory Party and to vote for them in the June local elections, held on the same day as the EU vote.
He also said he would be supporting them in next year’s General Election.
Mr Wheeler, below, had already warned the Tories he was unhappy with their decision to bring pro-Europe supporter Ken Clarke back into the Shadow Cabinet.
Last night Labour MPs predicted Mr Wheeler’s defection would be the first of many.
Government whip John Spellar said: “The carefully constructed facade is starting to crumble. Cameron has been trying to ride two horses, the left and right wings of his party. Now he has been found out.”