Tories can win back votes from UKIP, Theresa May says


Theresa May: "We are conscious that we need to work hard to get those votes back for the election"

The Conservatives can win back voters who have deserted them in favour of the UK Independence Party, Home Secretary Theresa May has insisted.

UKIP made gains in local elections as the Tories lost control of 10 councils.

Senior Tory David Davis is calling for a planned referendum on the European Union to be brought forward to counteract the UKIP threat.

Mrs May dismissed the idea but said the public needed "greater certainty" that a referendum would happen.

She said Prime Minister David Cameron had made it clear a referendum on the UK's membership of the EU would take place early in the next parliament.

UKIP, which campaigns for the UK to leave the EU, averaged 25% of the vote in the wards where it was standing in Thursday's elections and won more than 140 seats.

In response to Mrs May's comments, UKIP leader Nigel Farage, said: "She is asking us to trust the PM on a matter of a European referendum. He has a remarkably bad track record of keeping his word on this particular matter."

In opposition, Mr Cameron promised to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty amending the EU constitution but, once in power, said he was unable to do so because it had already been ratified.

'More straight talking'

Mr Davis, who lost the contest to become Tory leader to David Cameron in 2005, said UKIP's policies on law and order, immigration, taxation, foreign affairs, and Europe "mimic a simplified 1980s Tory manifesto".

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said the Conservatives must break the impression that they were "privileged and out of touch", "deal properly with fears over immigration" and urgently take steps to cut taxes.


After the Conservatives suffered a drubbing in the local elections and support leached away to UKIP, backbenchers, including the former leadership contender David Davis, are urging David Cameron to break the impression of being privileged and out of touch and to bring forward the planned European Union referendum.

Theresa May has rejected calls to hold the referendum before the next election, but said the Tories must give voters "greater certainty" that they will be given a say on Britain's EU membership.

It's a curious phrase - but points to the fact that despite David Cameron's speech on Europe in January where he promised a referendum, following negotiations, by 2017, too many people still don't believe it will happen.

All three major parties have offered a referendum on the issue before, but there hasn't been one since 1975.

The desire for a referendum is something UKIP have tapped into and the Tory leadership know they now need to show they will keep their promise on it.

There must be "more straight talking and fewer focus groups; more conventional Tory policies, not because they are Tory, but because they work; less pandering to metropolitan interest groups; and please, please, no more Old Etonian advisers".

The prime minister has pledged to hold an in-out referendum on the EU during the early part of the next parliament - by the end of 2017 at the latest - if the Conservatives win the next general election.

But he has first vowed to renegotiate the UK's position within the EU.

Mr Davis, however, said the vote should be held ahead of next year's European elections, "otherwise Nigel Farage will characterise those elections as 'the referendum the Tories wouldn't let you have'".

Mrs May told the BBC the party would learn lessons from the local elections and would work hard to bring back those voters who left the Conservatives and voted for UKIP.

She said she believed the timing of the referendum promised by Mr Cameron was right but that the party would look at giving "some greater certainty". And she insisted the referendum would be "on the basis of a renegotiated settlement".

"I think what we need to do is be able to show people that we will hold that referendum and we will hold that referendum after the next general election."

'Badly off track'

Former Conservative party chairman Lord Tebbit suggested Mr Cameron immediately put legislation in place to allow for a referendum and set a date for it.

That, he said, would present a real challenge to Labour leader Ed Miliband to make it known where he stood.

Lord Tebbit also accused Mr Cameron of going "badly off track" by veering too close to the Liberal Democrats. He said too many people were beginning to prefer what UKIP was offering - which he called the "politics of the common ground".

"Most people in the country agree we are being mucked around by our friends in Brussels... most people think that immigration is too high... most think that welfare has got out of kilter."

Start Quote

It certainly would look a fair bet that our vote will be considerably smaller [in 2015]”

End Quote Sir Nick Harvey Lib Dem MP

Earlier, Sarah Newton, the Conservative Party deputy chairman, said the government should consider bringing forward legislation in this parliament guaranteeing a referendum would be held.

But Mrs May refused to confirm this would happen.

BBC political correspondent Iain Watson said UKIP's performance also raised questions for Labour, with its internal debate over whether to call for a referendum on EU membership likely to heighten between now and 2015.

Contests took place in 27 English county councils and seven unitary authorities, as well as in Anglesey. About 2,300 council seats were up for grabs in England, in a major mid-term test for the coalition government.


More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 1239.

    Never will vote labour as they tax and spend. Have voted tory for 30 years but 2015 will be when I vote UKIP. Tories leaders are self serving toffs who wouldn't know hardship if it bit them. Sorry Cameron, May and the rest, but you have lost me and many others and therefore the general election.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1238.

    I hope the Conservative party understand that a referendum after the next General Election is an election to far. UKIP will continue to gain support until the country sees clear direction and policy from the main parties.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1237.

    When Blair sold away Parliament's right to rule in the interests of the UK via the illegal signing of the Lisbon Treaty, it gave a foreign country (i.e Brussels) the powers of Puppet Master, which is why the Libs, Lab, an Cons never listen to us! The Puppet Master simply has to say "Jump" - and Cameron an his minions immediate response is - How High?!!

    UKIP = Our Only Referendum Chance 4 Change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1236.

    Perhaps if the government started listening to the electorate and dealt with the problem of immigration, then the votes would have been cast differently yesterday.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1235.

    The problem for the Tories is that a sizeable minority of their traditional voters are, arguably, barmy, fruitcakes and closet racists. They couldn't bring themselves to vote BNP but UKIP is a good fit for their lumpen stupidity. Cameron should welcome the chance to ditch them and concentrate on winning more of the centre ground, where most of the rest of us live.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1234.

    Sort out these tax dodgers ie Power companies,Amazon etc
    VAT Cut put money back in peoples pockets

  • rate this

    Comment number 1233.

    Yes the UK can trade with who it likes, but the terms will be nothing like as favourable with little UK as they are when trade with the UK means access to a much larger market as well. We can offer 60m people as a market, but add another 500m people and those trade tariffs become much lower and our manufacturers benefit. Exporters and Financial Services know that. UKIP doesn't want voters to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1232.

    @228.Brian from Shropshire
    So your against wind farms (cause global warming is a myth), against gay marriage (Because its unnatural), for more tax cuts for the rich (cause they need more money so much), for less benefits (cause the poor are such a nuisance), for 40% more defence spending (with all that money we have), against EU (who cares about the economy)

    you sound like such a nice person..

  • rate this

    Comment number 1231.

    I wonder how many UKIP supporters would do voluntary work. Or work gathering strawberries. Or would go back into education-learn new skills! If immigration was further restricted - would that make Britain MORE competitive? Brits can work anywhere in Europe! How many ARE qualified to work anywhere in Europe! I think there is a link - between those who are NOT qualified and those who vote UKIP!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1230.

    What's the point in belonging to the EC, when European law doesn't afford British citizens the same rights as those living in other member states?
    Most other European countries have sensible, compassionate laws, allowing their people to grow and possess cannabis, particularly for medicinal use.
    Unlike the British Government, UKIP recognises these rights, and has called for a Royal Commission.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1229.

    Mass Observation recorded opinions of the UK populace during and after WWII, interesting reading but broadly exactly like the opinions expressed here: Ruling class out of touch with working man, only interested in the wealthy, don't have a clue how the rest of us live. They voted for change, as we will at the next general election. Churchill went then, Cameron is next.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1228.

    My liking for UKIP is NOT based on the idea of a Protest vote

    I read the manifestos of UKIP and compared to the other parties.
    Whilst I did not agree with ALL of the UKIP policies, I found I agreed with many of them

    I certainly preferred many of their policies to those of other parties

    Perhaps we will have to see if they will stick to them.
    Other parties have lied many times.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1227.

    1188. squirrel
    Guess Which Country I AM?


  • rate this

    Comment number 1226.

    What are the benefits from leaving the EU?
    How do they manifest?
    What are the risks to UK - will Japan still want to manufacture cars in a non EU country to gain access to the EU market?
    Will it stop huge banking subsidies , help collect the tens of billions of missing tax that is a huge problem and prevent cack handed legislation like the NHS shambles?
    Perhaps houses will become affordable?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1225.

    Why are people so surprised? I realised months ago that the Tory's don't have a prayer of winning the next election (baring a dramatic and miraculous upturn in the economy by 2015} they will bleed voters on their right to UKIP and they will bleed voters on their left due to austerity. It's certainly not because they think Labour/ E. Milliband is a better option. Continued....

  • rate this

    Comment number 1224.

    LABCON and even many in the media seem not to realise that this is the start of the break up of the 2-party domination of British politics. Power is no longer assured for LABCON - and that is precisely the change the country needs. If UKIP is the means to bringing that about then so be it. Ms May is deluded if she thinks this change will be reversed

  • rate this

    Comment number 1223.

    In this day and age of internet security why not make it easier for people to vote online or by text? There are too many people in this country either too busy or too lazy to go out and vote. We are in the 21st century after all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1222.

    Maybe if the Tory party stopped recruiting etron old boys as advisors, then they might not seem so distanced & alienated from the majority of British people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1221.

    Brian from Shropshire
    Just like when Labour said they would not increase Income tax in their Manifesto ? What they then did was to increase taxes accros the board . Total lies .. And people were fooled . Lies and spin ... But we have now an 'in ,out ' referendum . I'm going to vote for that ..

  • rate this

    Comment number 1220.

    I voted UKIP on thursday and I have to say, I will never ever vote for LibLabCon. And I'm sure a lot of other UKIP voters feel that way


Page 1 of 62


More Politics stories



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.