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 99.

    3 Prime Ministers have promised a referendum on the EU, Blair, Brown, & Cameron.

    Blair & Brown simply Lied & ignored the promise with Brown signing up to the Lisbon treaty through the back door.

    Cameron tries to con us with with "if you vote for me & i'm elected at the next election I'll give you a referendum sometime when i feel like it"

    It's lie after lie from the main parties nothing more!

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    To win back Tory voters the Conservative party needs to adopt policies which support the traditional family, protect the rights of the indigenous population and regain control over our laws and borders. Their leaders also need to speak honestly without "spin", subterfuge or "crossed fingers".

    Sadly Mr Cameron's performance to date gives little indication that he would or could do any of this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    Love it! Tories think the answer is just about leaving Europe. Sorry, but UKIPs supporters also want all foreigners out, mainly non-white of course), they want Little England all over again. I can't wait to see what happens if UKIP actually had any power. Imagine the turmoil if other countries started to treat UK residents the way UKIP is proposing we handle non- British (whatever that means)

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    This has served to prove you can only fool a limited number of people all of the time.

    Maybe now the Government will listen and will deliver what it promised in it's manifesto and stop trying to baffle people with inane jabber.

    People have voted for change and change they must have.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    Now people have seen that a vote for UKIP is not a wasted vote, these elections could the the start of a tidal wave of support for UKIP.

    Lets hope so. We need some one in government who can actually govern for the people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    Over the coming weeks I am sure Cameron will come on saying he will do more, we will roll up our sleeves, we will listen, I am sure as well we will see a photo opportunity outside a carefully picked doorstep.

    He will promise much but still he won't get it, get the fact that many voters simply do not feel part of their own communities and country and it sadly will get worse

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    At last it is no longer taboo to show concerns over immigration with out being called racist by the left wing press an to talk about our relationship with Europe. It was originally a trading treaty and now that the politicians can see the gravy train then they will fight to keep the status

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    Nigel Farage is so far to the right, he actually makes the Tories seem nice by comparison.

    That is quite an "achievement".

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    would you give your vote to a party that lied like the rest of them just to gain power what we need is a party that listens and does what the people want not just a minority

  • Comment number 90.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    A cunning plan with only one flaw, I didn't vote Conservative in the first place. And I never will. Get over it. UKIP are here to stay. If you want more Europeans, then I suggest you bluming well move there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    David Cameron needs to 'grow some' and stop pandering to all the minorities in this country.
    You can never please all the people all the time.
    This is the UK so concentrate on people who were born and bred here who are constantly sacrificed to the needs of others.
    40 years I have voted Conservative, but along with other friends we say COME ON UKIP!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    Let's be clear that these were local elections not national government, so the results may not be extrapolated towards those of a general election.

    I'm not sure whether the UKIP have won Tory voters, or whether the Tories have driven them away all on their own (they have with me!).

    Maybe they should look at the numbers of people who didn't vote at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    The electorate cannot really see UKIP as the solution can they?

    Aside from the crowd-pleasing headline policies there is a fiercely right-wing agenda beneath, and one with a £100bn+ budget whole at that.

    I hope the main parties take note and re-adjust rather than risk letting UKIP in at a General Election, a mistake voters would regret for years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    If David Cameron had said we will have the IN?OUT EU vote on May 2nd 2013, UKIP would have not had any fuel in their tank and would have stalled. However as per normal Cameron and Co treat us voters as if we are fools and with contempt. All what they [Tories] are saying today post local Election results shows they have not listened to us for the past 3 years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    I'm afraid that the Tories are missing the point. Those who left the Tories for UKIP were driven away by profoundly un-Conservative policies that have been enthusiastically promoted by the Cameroons. The genie is now out of the bottle - and UKIP have been joined by very many people who know perfectly well that all the three established parties are acting in their own interests, not the voters'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    The tories are not interested in serving the electorate or bringing a brighter future to Britons. They are desperate only to stay in power. They're just vote-whoring now.

    Many voted for UKIP because they're sick and tired of the lies, deceits and insularity of the main parties who learned their politics from text books, not living.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    First thing May should do, is stop the EU immigrants right now, no more cheap labour, give the right living wage to our hard working people so the gap from benefits seekers will increase, it also give the tax man more from working people

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    Let us hope that this is the end of the Cons and the Libs who have supported the uncaring Cons bad policies through thick and thin. Roll on the election.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    They were voted in by the electorate but ignore pretty much everything the majority of the electorate want both Tory and others prioritising issues that the majority dont care about whilst sticking rigidly to others the majority think should change. Now they are losing ground they think they should listen to voters! They should be doing this from day one thats why its called democracy!


Page 58 of 62


More Politics stories



BBC © 2014 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.