Grant Shapps: 'UKIP are no threat to a Tory majority in 2015, despite Eastleigh result'
PUBLISHED: 16:31 01 March 2013 | UPDATED: 16:46 01 March 2013
TORY Party Chairman Grant Shapps has dismissed the threat posed by UKIP despite finishing third in the Eastleigh by-election.
The Conservatives finished behind second-placed UKIP and the victorious Lib Dems last night (Thursday), who held the seat after disgraced former Energy Secretary Chris Huhne resigned as an MP.
Welwyn Hatfield MP Mr Shapps said: “We’ll be fighting the next election providing a clear choice between David Cameron as PM or Ed Miliband.
“People will make up their minds on who will make the best PM nearer the time.”
Asked whether his party’s poor showing in the poll was a threat to his position as Chairman, or David Cameron’s tenure as Conservative Party leader, he simply said: “No.”
Mr Shapps conceded the setback, in one of the Tories’ target seats, was “a disappointing result for the Conservative Party”, but he insisted: “in mid-term by-elections, people want to register a protest”.
He did not think Nigel Farage’s Eurosceptic party would cost the Tories an overall majority in the 2015 General Election, and he thought disillusioned supporters would flock back to the fold in two years’ time.
Instead, Mr Shapps turned his fire on the Labour Party.
He said: “I think the real crisis is for Labour.
“Out of 84 seats in the South East, they currently hold just four.
“They made absolutely no progress in Eastleigh yesterday which hardly makes them the insurgent party of opposition about to storm Downing Street.”
He added: “Yes people wanted to send a protest vote and that message has been received loud and clear, but surely it’s Ed Miliband who needs to worry that Labour isn’t picking up the advantage – mainly because they have no answers to today’s real world problems other than more spending, borrowing and debt.
“Exactly the things that got us into this mess in the first place.”