is what gives the remaining 10% a bad name!
So Will Ukip’s Biggest Backer, Stuart Wheeler, Dump Farage’s Cult following & status & Back Boris Johnson, having raised the profile, and even possibly installing Douglas Carswell at leader of the Ukip rump to facilitate an amalgamation?
I would rejoin Tories… but only with Boris as a leader, says mastermind who plotted coup from his castle
- Stuart Wheeler lit the fuse on the ‘Carswell coup’ over a secret lunch
- He has been wining and dining a number of dissatisfied Tory MPs
- Former Tory said he would not return to the party with Cameron as leader
- But that could change if Boris took over and brought in Ukip-friendly policies
Published: 01:19, 31 August 2014 | Updated: 12:52, 31 August 2014
The Ukip donor who helped to mastermind the stunning defection of Douglas Carswell would consider switching back to the Conservatives if Boris Johnson became leader, he said yesterday.
Stuart Wheeler, the multi-millionaire former Tory stalwart who lit the fuse on the ‘Carswell coup’ over a secret lunch, would not return to the Conservatives with David Cameron as leader.
But that could change if Boris took over and introduced Ukip-friendly policies.
Wheeler dealer: Mr Wheeler, left, has been wining and dining disaffected Tory MPs – a process which culminated in last week’s bombshell announcement by Douglas Carswell, right, that he was defecting
Mr Wheeler, a former Tory donor who was expelled from the party in 2009 after diverting his funding to Ukip, has been wining and dining disaffected Tory MPs – a process which culminated in last week’s bombshell announcement.
One senior Tory, Mr Wheeler now reveals, was even wooed by being invited to his 17th Century Jacobean castle.
Dan Hannan, an MEP socially and ideologically close to Mr Carswell, has stayed at the Grade I listed Chilham Castle in Kent where Mr Wheeler lives with wife Tessa and their three daughters, including the Vogue model Jacquetta.
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In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Mr Wheeler explained how he had held court with ‘potential defectors’ at discreet lunch venues.
‘I wrote to about ten Eurosceptic Tory MPs saying “Would you like to have lunch with me? Just the two of us, an out-of-the-way restaurant, we won’t be seen. The only other person who will know is Nigel”. And Douglas was one of them.’
He dined with Mr Carswell two years ago at Central London’s Pearl restaurant, which food critics say offers a ‘sensual dining experience’ involving dishes such as scallops, squid and lamb Wellington.
Conditions: Multi-millionaire Mr Wheeler said that he would not return to the Conservatives with David Cameron as leader. But that could change if Boris, right, took over and introduced Ukip-friendly policies
Guest: Dan Hannan, an MEP socially and ideologically close to Mr Carswell, has stayed at the Grade I listed Chilham Castle in Kent where Mr Wheeler lives with wife Tessa and their three daughters
‘We discussed everything to do with the EU and Cameron’s leadership,’ said Mr Wheeler. ‘I don’t think I said “How about defecting?” but I would have said “Would you like to meet Nigel Farage?” And now he has.
‘My guess is that he only made his final decision a fortnight ago.’
Mr Wheeler, 79, who made his £90 million fortune in the spread betting industry, refuses to divulge the names of the other MPs he lunched – including two he believes are ‘close to’ following Mr Carswell in defecting – but he is an admirer of former Defence Secretary Liam Fox, former Shadow Home Secretary David Davis and rebellious Tory MP Jesse Norman.
In Vogue: Ukip donor Stuart Wheeler’s daughter Jacquetta
He invited former Tory deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft, but the peer declined on the grounds that it would ‘not be appropriate’.
Mr Wheeler said: ‘There are a lot of Tories I admire. An MEP I greatly admire is Dan Hannan. He has been to stay with me in Kent,’ said Mr Wheeler, adding that he couldn’t remember what was discussed but: ‘I am sure we discussed the EU and everything like that’.
Mr Hannan stated last week that he did not intend to defect to Ukip.
No 10 is furious with Mr Wheeler, arguing that his ‘turncoat’ actions are helping to split the right-wing vote and could allow Ed Miliband to win next year’s General Election.
But Mr Wheeler refutes their analysis. ‘I don’t think it is going to be like that. Labour is terrified of us.
There are a lot of Labour constituencies, particularly in the North, where we are a close second and the Tories are a long way behind – it would be greatly to the advantage of the Tories if we take the seat. So I don’t think it is likely to let Labour in, as the Tories are so keen to put about’.
What could the Tories do to persuade him to return to the fold and bring Ukip voters with him?
‘Well, perhaps if Mr Cameron said “You are right, Stuart, we should be campaigning to leave the EU and introduce grammar schools and I was wrong about climate change [existing]”.
‘But that’s something which is undoubtedly not going to happen. And I think I would prefer not to have David Cameron as a leader either.’
He sees an obvious, stand-out alternative.
‘Boris Johnson would be best for getting votes. However, him being leader is not enough in itself – if Boris introduced those policies [on the EU, grammar schools and climate change] then I should think there would quite likely be a deal between the Conservatives and Ukip. But that is not going to happen’.
The businessman said he also rates former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and Jesse Norman as potential Tory leaders.
Mr Wheeler – who added that he regards Mr Carswell as a potential future Ukip leader – knows that the ‘Carswell coup’ has caused panic in No 10. ‘We have got them rattled,’ he said. ‘They should be rattled.’
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