Peter Hoskin

Lord Pearson makes his mark

Lord Pearson makes his mark
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He's only been in the job a few hours, but the new leader of UKIP, Lord Pearson, has already dropped a fairly intriguing bombshell.  Interviewed in today's Times, he reveals that he proposed, some months ago, a deal with the Tories whereby UKIP would disband* if Cameron offered a referendum on a ratified Lisbon Treaty.  Apparently, the Tories didn't respond to the overture – which seems rather tactless, if nothing else.

You can see why Pearson has made the revelation now.  This "greater good"-style posturing could incite a few Tory supporters, and perhaps even parliamentarians, who are concerned about their party's stance on Lisbon.  Who knows? – it may even drive some votes UKIP's way.  

But it seems to me that the strategy is more likely self-harming.  At a time when UKIP are trying to expand their appeal – by focusing on Islamism as well as Europe – the news that the party was prepared to step down from the electoral fray, over the latter issue, may also put some people off.

* By contrast, Nigel Farage claims that the offer was for UKIP to withdraw from the general election.