The main thing holding the UK’s anti-EU feelings back from a more open expression of the view is that they associate UKIP with a combination of lightweight, negative, eccentric and perhaps even extreme policies – such that David Cameron referred to the Party in the last election as “BNP Lite”.
Particularly cited by British voters in a negative sense are the Party’s childish internal politics, the ‘harsh’ aura given off by its Leader Lord Pearson, and the rant of insults aimed at Herman van Rompuy in the EU Parliament by Nigel Farage.
The Slog is not at liberty to describe or name the source of the information, but a senior person involved in its collation told us:
“Basically, UKIP is to the EU as the BNP was to immigration: the very existence of the BNP meant it was a taboo subject. Withdrawal from the EU is coloured in exactly the same way by UKIP’s association with madcap ideas. The best ally Brussels has in the UK today is UKIP”.
Everyone has an agenda, but we would stress that neither source nor information emanate from a political party. And the General Election results showed clearly that, without UKIP’s existence, the Conservative Party would have been elected without the need for a Coalition with the Liberal Democrats. A grass-roots Tory source told us yesterday that “we argued before and throughout the election for a tougher stance on Europe because that is the best way to wipe out UKIP’s support”.
The information raises more than just a debate about majorities and split votes, however: it is ammunition for the Tory Right who feel the Cameroons botched the election campaign. And it suggests that, without a vigorous embrace of the case against EU membership by a major political party in the UK, real feelings about Brussels will be understated.