The gasps were audible, the media was stunned, the foundations of the Westminster establishment were once again rocked by Douglas Carswell MP’s defection from the Conservative Party to UKIP today.
But the reverberations mean so much more to the country that it means to Westminster insiders, and that’s a welcome change in this dreary village.
I stood outside the Westminster Arms pub, moments ago, with Nigel Farage and his press team, and let me tell you something – I couldn’t get a word in for the number of cabbies and British tourists asking for selfies with Nigel, shaking his hand, and insisting that today’s news was the best they’ve heard in a long, long time. I’ve got some video to prove it, which will be up later.
In Essex, the move will mean that a number of Conservative councillors will think about leaving the Tory Party and moving over to UKIP – important for local democracy.
In Britain, the move for a relatively mainstream Tory will mean that people will move the opinion polls again in UKIP’s favour, and will, according to a former Tory staffer, cost the Conservatives around £300,000 to fight UKIP in a by-election. This is money they can ill afford to lose right now.
Most importantly, will Carswell’s move embolden other Tory MPs to jump ship? The information I’m getting right now says… yes. And that’s what Cameron will be scrambling about as we speak.
The whips will be moving. The leadership will be scrambling. And now, the General Election looks just a little more out of Cameron’s grasp.