David Cameron makes direct plea to Conservative voters considering Ukip

Political Editor

David Cameron will today appeal directly to Conservative supporters who have defected to the UK Independence Party to return to the Tory fold.

Launching the Conservatives’ campaign for the 22 May European and local elections, he will say that Ukip cannot deliver the in/out referendum on Europe he has promised if he remains in power. A Tory poster shows a referendum ballot box with the words: “Labour and the Lib Dems won’t. Ukip can’t. We will in 2017.”

Speaking in the West Midlands, the Prime Minister will ask Eurosceptic voters who doubt he will deliver his referendum pledge to judge him on his record of vetoing an EU treaty, cutting the EU budget and pulling the UK out of the eurozone bailout scheme.

“Others talk about acting in the national interest or standing up to Europe, I do it, time and again - often In the teeth of opposition in Brussels and with a backdrop of uncertainty about whether it can really happen at home,” he will say.

Mr Cameron will promise voters that he would not form another coalition with the Lib Dems after next year’s general election unless they backed a 2017 referendum. “For me this is a fundamental principle. And I would not be Prime Minister of a Government unless we could carry out our pledge of an in-out referendum. Because the British people deserve their say, and I will make sure they get it,” he will say.

Mr Cameron’s move is a clear sign that the Tories are rattled by the remarkable rise of Nigel Farage’s party. Despite a series of embarrassing and offensive remarks by some Ukip candidates and activists, the latest opinion polls suggest it is on course to come top in the Euro elections, relegating the Tories to a humiliating third place in a national election for the first time.

Ukip will counter Mr Cameron’s appeal by reminding voters that he promised a referendum on the EU’s Lisbon Treaty before the 2010 election but failed to deliver it. Ukip leaders are confident that the lack of trust in mainstream parties will limit the impact of the Prime Minister’s latest pledge.

Launching Labour’s European and local election effort in Redbridge yesterday, Ed Miliband made only a passing reference to Europe, making clear he would put “the cost of living crisis” at the heart of his party’s campaign. He told voters that Labour MEPs’ priority would not be “leaving the EU, but changing it, so that it can work to raise living standards for hardworking families in Britain” and to work for growth and jobs.

Mr Miliband has rejected internal Labour pressure to match Mr Cameron’s pledge of an in/out referendum. Labour would hold such a vote before Britain transferred more power to Brussels but admits a referendum in the 2015-20 parliament would be “unlikely” under a Labour government. If Labour does not do well at the Euro elections, some Labour MPs will press him to make a firm commitment to a referendum.

The Lib Dems admit they have taken a “big gamble” by brandishing their pro-European credentials rather than adopting the safety-first approach of not talking much about Europe in a European election.

In effect, Nick Clegg is asking pro-Europeans to lend their votes to his party to try to raise its nine per cent average poll rating into double figures, so it avoids the meltdown of losing all 12 of its MEPs. But some Lib Dems fear the party could even come fifth behind the Greens.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Recruitment Genius: PA

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A PA is required to join a leading provider of...

Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - London - £43,000

£35000 - £43000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior IT Support Analyst...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness