Ukip are desperate to build on the momentum from their Rochester win as the general election looms ever closer. At the very top of the party figures including leader Nigel Farage and Deputy Chairman Suzanne Evans have made no secret of the fact that they’d like their next major defector to come from Labour.
So, are Ukip going to succeed in wooing over a Labourite, and if so, who?
Former Cabinet member Kate Hoey has the right Eurosceptic credentials for Ukip, although her Vauxhall constituency doesn’t lend itself to joining the purple ‘people’s army’, given Ukip’s weakness in London.
I got in touch with her office and Hoey replied saying ‘I am not prepared to waste any time on this’. Hardly the categorical denial her whips would like.
I then asked Hoey directly if she or any of her colleagues would be leaving Labour to join Ukip. I’ve not had a response.
Another of those high up on the suspected defector list is Graham Stringer. He is a known Eurosceptic ally of Hoey’s, and was firmly against the European Arrest Warrant last week. On the possibility of defecting to Ukip, he said:
‘I have no plans to leave the Labour party.’
Stringer pointed out that he’d been in Labour all his life, and at times the party had agreed with him on Europe. While he conceded that currently wasn’t the case, he said that there was ‘no reason to leave Labour’. Stringer added that he ‘certainly wouldn’t join a right wing party like UKIP’.