A NORTHUMBERLAND Conservative peer has warned he and others will switch to the UK Independence Party unless David Cameron gets powers for Britain back from Brussels.
Long-serving Nigel Vinson, who lives near Wooler, also cast doubt on whether the Conservative Liberal Democrat coalition in Westminster will survive until 2015 as planned and whether Mr Cameron would remain as Tory leader beyond that.
Tory Mayor of London Boris Johnson would be in “pole position” to take over, said Lord Vinson – although he questioned whether there would be “putsch” before 2015 when the next general election is due to be held.
His comments come as Mr Johnson, who is not an MP, has seen his profile soar as the London Olympics have dominated the news.
A poll this week found Labour’s current lead would be slashed to just one point if Mr Johnson was Tory leader at the next election, compared to the six-point lead enjoyed by Opposition leader Ed Miliband over Mr Cameron.
Nationally, Mr Johnson’s Conservative party would be on 37% compared to 38% for Mr Miliband’s Labour while Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats would remain on 10%.
But in the North, Labour’s support would actually rise by one point to 49 and the Lib Dems would go from eight to nine if Mr Johnson was the leader of the Conservative party. His party would remain stuck on 29% in the North, according to the poll by YouGov.
But the latest developments will not make happy reading for Mr Cameron who has faced battles with the Lib Dems and elements of his own party while the economy remains in the doldrums.
Lord Vinson told The Journal: “Like many Tories, I will consider going to UKIP unless Cameron does something serious about repatriating powers.
“I and many others will leave the Conservative party unless we get a clear signal from Cameron because our relationship with Europe is extremely damaging and we would be better off out.”
Asked about Mr Cameron’s future, he said: “I don’t see a putsch coming. But I don’t see the Liberal Conservative coalition lasting and at that point anything could happen.” He said Mr Johnson would be in “pole position” to become Conservative leader.
“I would think he’d make a bid for it and he could well get it,” he said.
Northumberland Tory activist Anne Marie Trevelyan, who hopes to stand again for the Berwick constituency at the next general election, said she understood fellow party members’ frustrations over Europe and urged Mr Cameron to address those concerns.
But she added: “He has got an absolute nightmare on his hands juggling the Lib Dem and Tory extremely opposed views on Europe.
“Nigel [Vinson] is right that the Tory party leadership needs to have a clear policy on repatriating powers.
“I am not a ‘better off out’ person, but I understand their frustration and that frustration needs to be assuaged.
“There are those on the right of the party who have already left in favour of UKIP. I believe we can make a longer and better forward-thinking policy if people work within the Conservative party.”
Former Newcastle Conservative chairman Brian Moore said: “You put the country first and trying to put Cameron over a barrel is doing the North East no favours.” He added that Britain leaving the European Union now would be “catastrophic” for the UK economy.