Anxiety in the British Conservative Party about the rise of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) has increased after the anti-EU party won second place in two parliamentary by-elections yesterday.
As UKIP claimed it was now Britain's third party ahead of the Liberal Democrats, there were renewed Tory calls for an electoral pact with UKIP at the 2015 general election in the hope that this would prevent it denying David Cameron victory.
Labour retained all three seats contested on Thursday – Rotherham, Middlesbrough and Croydon North – on a dismal night for the two coalition parties. In Rotherham, UKIP secured its highest ever share of the vote (22 per cent) in a Westminster election.
Michael Fabricant, a Tory vice-chairman who supports a pact with UKIP, suggested yesterday the eurosceptic party could come first in the 2014 European Parliament elections, which will be fought under proportional representation.
"If UKIP does very well in the European elections, as many expect, it will give them some momentum at a critical time," he said.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage said his party had now joined the "political mainstream", adding: "We have established ourselves as the third force in British politics."
He said UKIP would talk to other parties about a pact if they promised a referendum on Europe – but the Tories would first have to ditch Mr Cameron because he had suggested UKIP was racist. (© Independent News Service).