PRIME Minister David Cameron’s concerns about UKIP’s popularity means he’s become “less clear cut” about establishing the Conservative Party on the centre ground, according to former Tory Cabinet minister Michael Portillo.
Mr Portillo, who is now an author and broadcaster, made the comments while attending the Yorkshire International Business Convention at Magna Science Adventure Centre in Rotherham.
He shared the stage with his old adversary, former Deputy Prime Minister Lord Prescott.
Speaking afterwards. Mr Portillo told The Yorkshire Post:
“David Cameron’s election (as leader) in itself moved the Conservative Party in the right direction.
“Then they got 37 per cent at the last election which was a great improvement where they had been before, but not enough to win the election.
“However, David Cameron is now much less clear cut about establishing the Conservative Party on the centre ground, because he’s worried about UKIP.
“The party talks a lot about immigration, talks a lot about the problems of the European Union, which many people interpret as a movement to the right.
“So that message about being on the centre ground is much less clear cut than it was.
“He (Mr Cameron) continues to have a problem with a sizeable number of backbenchers who just don’t agree with the project of moving the party on to the centre ground.
“I think he’s been a very lucky man, being the leader of a coalition, because within the coalition the 40 or so die-hard Conservative MPs, who would otherwise be very difficult for David Cameron, have been diluted, within the coalition.
“If he were running a Conservative Government with a minority or a very small majority, he would constantly be held hostage by those people who don’t agree with the project.”
During his time in Government, Lord Prescott helped to lead negotiations at Kyoto in Japan which led to the first treaty on climate change.
He still travels the world to campaign about environmental issues.
“I believe the consequences of climate change are going to be very considerable.’’ he told the audience.