Sending in Boris is the only solution

Published by The Sun (29th August, 2014)

Tory chiefs sent out an invitation to donors yesterday morning asking them to join Douglas Carswell, one of their brightest backbenchers, for drinks and discussion. Yet hours later they were cursing his name after the Essex MP announced his shock defection to Ukip.

This was one of those seismic moments that make politics so gloriously unpredictable.

Carswell said the decision gave him sleepless nights – but not as many as it will now cause David Cameron. His explosive move blows apart Tory plans for the critical weeks coming out of the parliamentary recess in the run-up to next year’s general election.

The summer had been going well for the Tories with the economy recovering fast, Labour largely invisible and the Lib Dems largely irrelevant. Even Nigel Farage’s insurgency seemed to be struggling to build on its breakthrough in May’s European elections.

Now the likeable MP for Clacton has turbo-charged Ukip’s challenge. His honourable decision to seek electoral mandate under new party colours ensures a by-election in just the sort of struggling seaside resort that is fertile terrain for Farage’s forces.

The Tories must endure more painful headlines about divisions on Europe, about immigration and about being out of touch with voters.

The timing could not have been worse, coming straight after news of another big rise in the number of migrants coming to this country. Yet again this exposed the folly of the failed immigration cap – the sort of broken pledge exploited so skillfully by Farage.

Carswell’s defection is lethal since it is based on principle rather than sordid self-interest. He may be an eccentric character, by turns endearing and exasperating, but he is also a true believer in the threat from Europe and the need to revive our democracy.

Unfortunately his action helps Labour hopes of winning power, which reduces the chance of that cherished referendum on Europe. But already he is runaway favourite to win the by-election and become Ukip’s first winner of a Westminster seat.

So what can the Tories do? There is only one solution: send out an SOS (Save Our Seat) call for Boris.

A Number Ten source dismissed the suggestion yesterday. But the Mayor of London needs to be persuaded to forget his favoured seat of Uxbridge, head for Clacton and put party interests above his own.

What a cracking contest – the Blond Bombshell versus the Clacton Defector. Let battle commence.

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