George Osborne rules out Tory-Ukip alliance

Proposals that Conservative MPs could strike local deals with the UK Independence Party in the upcoming general election have been given short shrift by Chancellor George Osborne.
George Osborne has ruled out a Tory pact with Ukip. Picture: GettyGeorge Osborne has ruled out a Tory pact with Ukip. Picture: Getty
George Osborne has ruled out a Tory pact with Ukip. Picture: Getty

Ukip leader Nigel Farage ruled out a formal electoral pact, but suggested he would not stand in the way of agreements made at constituency level.

A number of high-profile Conservatives have floated the possibility of an alliance with Ukip in the run-up to the election to avoid splitting the right-wing vote, including MP Jacob Rees-Mogg who suggested that Mr Farage’s party would expect to get some MPs out of any deal.

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Writing in The Times, Mr Farage said: “If either they, or others like them, even Labour MPs, with their local associations, chose to propose running on a joint ticket then I would leave the local Ukip association to have those associations.

“If after discussions they feel that it would be a better way to serve their constituents, then I and the National Executive Committee would be happy to hear reasoning. After all we are a party that believes in real localism and doesn’t think that the centre is the repository of all wisdom.”

However, when asked this morning whether he was ready to consider any sort of deal with Ukip, Mr Osborne told Sky News: “The short answer is no. What the Conservative Party is doing is talking to the country, in marked contrast to the other political parties who are talking about themselves and positioning themselves.

“We are making a very straightforward offer to the hard-working people of this country, to say we are on your side and we are going to help you buy your own home, help you get a job, help you get a better job, help you keep more of your income tax-free.

“We’ve got a big, simple offer for the country. The economy is on the right track and we are going to see our plan through.”

Mr Osborne’s comments came after Foreign Secretary William Hague insisted that Tories “don’t make pacts with other parties” and instead issued a caution to wavering supporters that they risk letting Labour into power if they vote for Ukip.

A ComRes survey found 22 per cent of Tory local councillors supported a pact but Mr Hague told Pienaar’s Politics on BBC Radio 5 Live: “I do rule that out.

“We don’t make electoral pacts with other parties; we do make pacts with the voters of other parties and win over the voters of other parties as we’ve often done through history.

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“And, of course, if someone is contemplating voting Ukip who would otherwise vote Conservative they could, by default, produce a Labour government which is the absolute opposite of what they might want on Europe for instance.

“They might be voting for Ukip because they want to have a referendum on Europe. Well, they are only going to get that if David Cameron is Prime Minister after the next election.

“Whatever they have done in local elections or whatever they say in opinion polls, at the next general election a voter like that will have to choose: are they going to have Ed Miliband as prime minister and go headlong into giving away more of the country’s powers or are they going to have a referendum under David Cameron?

“A general election in this country is a first-past-the-post system. It is a choice.”

Party chiefs were accused of trying to “stifle debate” on the issue after an advert for a fringe meeting featuring Mr Farage failed to appear in the official conference guide.

The Ukip leader is tipped to draw a big crowd after being invited to speak at an event organised by the Thatcherite Bruges Group at Manchester Town Hall - one of the largest conference venues.

But despite having its £250 payment for a plug for the meeting accepted, the group - named for Baroness Thatcher’s speech about a European “super state” - was told the ad had been pulled.

Bruges Group director Robert Oulds said: “It is wrong that they are trying to hide this meeting from party members at the conference.

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“I am concerned that the party may be trying to stifle debate on this subject.

“Instead of ignoring the problem, we have to start to have a debate and to understand each other.”