Conservative Party kicks out its biggest donor over Europe row

The Conservative Party expelled its largest donor last night after a public row about David Cameron's "say-nothing" policy on Europe.



The spread-betting tycoon Stuart Wheeler, who donated £5m to the Tories in 2001, has given £100,000 to the Eurosceptic UK Independence Party and said he will vote for it in June's European elections because he believes Mr Cameron is failing to represent Britain's interests by stifling internal debate on the EU. Mr Wheeler believes Brussels is a bigger threat to Britain than the global recession. He said yesterday morning that the threat of being kicked out by the Tories did not "alter his stance at all". News of his expulsion broke at 8pm.

Speaking earlier on BBC1's Politics Show, the 74-year-old said: "I think it's very important the Conservatives win the next election but even more important is getting the European Union right. I'm afraid I put that above getting the Conservatives in."

The situation compounds Mr Cameron's headache over his party's European policy. Earlier this month Mr Cameron promised to fulfil a pledge to withdraw his MEPs from the European People's Party – the alliance of mainstream centre-right parties at Brussels – and set up a new grouping in Strasbourg after the elections to oppose closer European union.

But finding savoury bedfellows has proved challenging. One ally, the Czech Civic Democrats, lost power at home last week and its founder is sceptical about climate change. The shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague recently met a leader of the Latvian Fatherland and Freedom Party to discuss an alliance. Party members include nationalists who every year commemorate a Latvian Waffen SS unit.

Mr Wheeler, a close friend of Michael Howard, opposes Mr Cameron's desire to keep the problematic topic of Europe off the party agenda – particularly the matter of a British referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Last year Mr Wheeler unsuccessfully attempted to sue Gordon Brown over his refusal to hold a referendum, after raising a war chest of over £170,000.

"The Conservatives – though perhaps more Eurosceptic than Labour – just wish no one would talk about the EU so that they can win the general election in peace," Mr Wheeler said, urging Tory voters to vote UKIP at the European elections.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back