Oh great just what we needed:
Two Tory peers defect to Ukip
By Brendan Carlin, Political Correspondent
Last Updated: 11:10am GMT 09/01/2007
Two senior peers today severed their links with David Cameronâs Conservative Party to join the anti-Brussels UK Independence Party.
Nigel Farage, Ukip leader, predicts more defections
As forecast by The Daily Telegraph last week, Lord Pearson of Rannoch and Lord Willoughby de Broke joined Ukip in protest at Mr Cameronâs alleged failure to pursue a Eurosceptic agenda. The move gives Ukip its first representation at Westminster.
The peers will now form a Ukip group in the Lords as working peers, asking questions and participating in debates on behalf of the anti-EU party.
Lord Pearson, a former fundraiser for the Tories, made clear his decision was a vote of no confidence in Mr Cameronâs leadership and raised the prospect of Ukip inflicting real damage on the Tory electoral revival.
âWe feel the only language the present leadership of the Conservative Party may understand is votes and money, and the only way that can be done is to make Ukip into a greater fighting force,â he said.
advertisementLord Pearson added: "We have given up hoping that the Conservative Party will adopt a sufficiently Eurosceptic policy in time for the next general election, and also that it will toughen up on immigration, tax, education and so on.â
He also claimed "several other peers" were thinking of joining Ukip.
The two peers were stripped of the Tory Whip in the Lords in 2004 for previously aiding Ukip in the European elections. But their decision to sever links with the Tories and join Ukip may embolden more Eurosceptic Conservatives to follow suit.
Lord Willoughby de Broke specifically accused Mr Cameron of failing to honour his pledge to pull Tory Euro-MPs out of the main pro-federal EPP grouping on the European Parliament.
The move has been postponed till after the next European elections.
The peer added: "This is not a decision either of us have taken lightly but if the Conservatives say we are letting the party down, I would say the reverse: that the party has let us down and let the country down.â
Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, said "I welcome these defections which come on top of many senior Conservatives who have joined us in recent months and I predict many more to come.â
The peersâ decision comes as Mr Cameron outlines the Tory approach to Europe in a speech to members of the Right-of-Centre CSU party in Bavaria today.