Shipley’s Conservative candidate yesterday turned down an invitation to campaign with the UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader who has backed him for re-election because of his anti-European stance.
Tory Philip Davies was asked by UKIP leader Lord Pearson of Rannoch to join him speaking to voters during a tour of Shipley.
Lord Pearson is backing Mr Davies and five other Tories it says are eurosceptics rather than standing against them in their constituencies.
It had originally been expected that the pair would appear together in Shipley, but Mr Davies said there had been some “wire crossing” and would be no joint event.
Instead, Lord Pearson campaigned wearing a Tory rosette on one lapel and a Ukip rosette on the other while aides displayed a sign reading: “UKIP for Davies”.
Mr Davies said: “I’m really grateful for him coming to support me, that’s absolutely fantastic, but it was never the plan to do a joint event.”
The UKIP policy of supporting rival candidates opposed to the UK’s membership of the European Union has caused a row between members and their leader.
In a statement, members of UKIP’s South West Regional Committee criticised the policy but speaking to the T&A in Shipley yesterday, Lord Pearson said he had not been aware of the latest criticism.
He said: “UKIP is a very democratic party. They (the south west committee) can do what they want and I am on this ticket, so I can do what I want.”
Tory leader David Cameron said: “What UKIP does is up to them.”
He added: “The key thing is that Conservative candidates are actually offering real change in Europe. We are saying we want to be in Europe but not run by Europe – that’s the case with Philip Davies as with everybody else.”
But Mr Davies denied this, saying: “That’s not the case with Philip Davies because Philip Davies doesn’t want to be in Europe, Philip Davies wants to be out of the EU – but that’s always been my position as David Cameron well knows and has always respected.
“I give him credit because he is the first leader who has accepted that there are different views and we don’t all have to agree on everything, even if it’s not the official policy of the Conservative Party.”
- The other candidates standing in Shipley are Susan Hinchcliffe (Lab), John Harris (Lib Dem) and Kevin Warnes (Green).