Pro-euro Tories in election rebellion

PRO-EUROPEAN Tories are likely to ruin William Hague's hopes of victory in the Newark by-election by fielding their own candidate.

The breakaway group is preparing to split the Conservative Party's vote by contesting the seat left vacant by the conviction of the Labour MP Fiona Jones of election fraud.

Sources within the pro-euro Conservative Party have told The Independent that the by-election is "too good an opportunity to miss" to get across its message. The rebel grouping, which recently had its title officially approved despite protests from Conservative Central Office, was formed this year by former Tory MEPs who resigned in protest at Mr Hague's hard line on the single currency.

Faced with a Labour majority of just over 3,000, the Conservatives would need only a small swing to win back a seat they had held for decades until 1997. The Tories were also hoping that the absence of the anti-federalist Referendum Party would give them an edge.

But recent polls have shown that breakaway pro-European Tory candidates could attract significant support and a rebel candidate could take enough votes from the official Conservatives for a Labour victory.

Michael Ancram, the Conservative Party chairman, admitted recently that a "wrecking campaign" by pro-euro rebels could split the Tory vote in the June European elections.

No date has been set for the Newark poll, but Labour sources have suggested June 10 - to coincide with the European elections and increase Tory division on Europe. As the rebel Tories are already fielding candidates in the MEP elections, they have now said they would "definitely" contest the Nottinghamshire poll if held on the same day. Even if the Government opts for May 6, the date of local council elections, the breakaway group is poised to put up a candidate simply to raise its profile.

John Stevens, who helped to found the new party with his fellow MEP Brendan Donnelly, has already warned the Newark party not to use Eurosceptic language or tactics in the by-election. "If William Hague chooses to make the euro the real issue in the by-election by pursuing a Eurosceptic agenda and bad-mouthing Ken Clarke, then he's got a fight on his hands," a pro- euro source said.

Ms Jones was forced to quit last month when a court found her guilty of breaching limits on campaign spending in the 1997 general election. Last week, the Tories selected Richard Alexander, MP for Newark for 18 years until he lost to Ms Jones, as their official candidate for the constituency.

Mr Stevens has written to the chairman of the Newark Conservative Association, warning it not to use Eurosceptic language in the by-election campaign. He said that as a Nottingham association, the local party should endorse the right of the nearby MP and former chancellor Kenneth Clarke "and those who think like him" to advocate his pro-euro views.

Mr Clarke was proposing a policy on the euro that he believed to be right, even though it was contrary to the current official line, Mr Stevens wrote.

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week