Stuart Wheeler, one of the Tories’ biggest donors, has brought David Cameron back down to earth with a thud greeting the news that the Tories have just polled 52% in an IPSOS MORI poll compared to Labour’s 24% with a threat that he will defect to UKIP next year if the Tories don’t buck their ideas up over the EU.
Cameron is a committed eurofederalist so I guess all that remains for me to say is “Welcome to UKIP Mr Wheeler”.
Tory donor threatens to defect over Europe
David Cameron was today threatened by the possible defection of one of the Tories’ biggest donors in a row over Europe.
Spread betting tycoon Stuart Wheeler hinted he may back Ukip in next year’s European elections unless Mr Cameron hardens policy on Europe.
The businessman bailed out the Conservatives with a record £5 million gift in 2001 and has continued to give smaller sums. But he made clear he did not trust the Conservative leader not to relegate the thorny issue of Europe to “the back burner” if he wins power.
Mr Wheeler said: “The reality is that a new Conservative government will have a great deal it wants to achieve which has nothing whatsoever to do with Europe. It does not like thinking about Europe. So Europe is all too likely to be put on the back burner.” Mr Wheeler was delivering today’s second annual Goldsmith lecture – in memory of financier Sir James Goldsmith, whose anti-EU Referendum Party stood against Conservatives in the 1997 election.
He is demanding that Mr Cameron commit the Tories to an “immediate and massive” renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the EU if he wins power, including junking the Lisbon Treaty. Mr Cameron has so far only pledged to block Lisbon if it has not been ratified by all 27 member states.
In recent months Mr Wheeler has been courted by Ukip leader Nigel Farage, whom he calls “clever and articulate”.
He mounted a legal challenge this year to Gordon Brown’s decision to ratify the Treaty, arguing the Prime Minister had unlawfully reneged on an election promise to hold a referendum.