Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Turncoats, ‘dickheads’ – what the Tories think of Ukip

The Tories are bracing themselves for another defection to Ukip which may or may not come today or in the next few days. MPs and whips have been chasing after Adam Holloway and Chris Kelly as the figures who seem the most at risk, and have been extracting the sort of point blank denials that Mark Reckless claims to have never been asked for. Daniel Hannan has been denying again that he is leaving his party, while another rumour is doing the rounds that the next defection could be from a London Conservative working with Boris, rather than the Commons or the European Parliament.

MPs are angry and determined to put as much pressure on Reckless as possible, not least because many of his colleagues feel betrayed. Sarah Wollaston, the MP cited by both Reckless and Douglas Carswell as an example of the leadership mistreating backbenchers, is particularly unimpressed with Reckless’s interpretation of the discussion she had with the Prime Minister about rebellious MPs at the party away day. She tells me that she did not think the Prime Minister confronted her about her comments on rebellion because he was trying to patronise her, but because she had just been jeered by a room of her own colleagues for arguing that thoughtful rebellions were one of the ways MPs could show constituents they were on their side.

‘It was not how Mark portrayed it,’ she tells me. ‘Maybe Mark and Douglas think they are being helpful to me, but I think the Prime Minister was trying to be helpful to me too.’

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