Council leaders across the Black Country and Staffordshire have ruled out the prospect of doing any deals with the UK Independence Party.
It comes after UKIP leader Nigel Farage said he would not stand in the way of his members doing deals with the Tories or Labour to run on a ‘joint ticket’ if they share common views over a referendum on Europe.
However, councillors in the Black Country have ruled out the prospect.
The opposition Conservative leader on Dudley Council, Patrick Harley, said today that the only way it could happen would be if UKIP pulled all its candidates out of seats held by the Tories, or where the Tories have a chance of winning, and did not oppose Dudley South MP Chris Kelly in 2015.
Such a deal would see UKIP only standing in safe Labour seats the Tories believe they have no chance of winning.
Despite Mr Kelly’s record of supporting a referendum on Europe, however, UKIP is still determined to challenge him and put candidates in every seat.
Councillor Harley said: “We have a Prime Minister who has offered the first referendum on Europe in many people’s lifetimes.
“UKIP have done well recently but that glow is starting to fade as their policies are being scrutinised by the media. I’m really not into the idea of pacts. My local MP Chris Kelly is one of the most Eurosceptic Conservatives but UKIP are still prepared to challenge him. The only way I’d ever consider a pact is if they said they would not stand against Conservatives with a good record on Europe.” UKIP’s spokesman in Dudley, Bill Etheridge, said there was no chance of it happening. “We will under no circumstances do any deals with other parties in this area,” he said.
Tory and Labour councillors in Wolverhampton are also doing no deals, despite UKIP having come second to Labour in a recent by-election in Blakenhall.
The city’s opposition Tory leader Neville Patten said UKIP’s recent performance, with one of its MEPs, Godfrey Bloom, resigning the whip after hitting a journalist and jokingly referring to a room full of women as ‘sluts’, may change its fortunes. Councillor Patten said: “There has been a threat from UKIP, we have to be honest about that. But seeing how they have been performing at their conference, are they ready to go into a pact with anyone?”
The Labour leader of the city council Roger Lawrence added: “I’m not anticipating any such arrangements. Their policies on the public sector and the provision of public services are even more hostile than the Conservatives.” He said Labour would be contesting every seat in Wolverhampton in the next council elections in May. Walsall will be a major battleground as control of the borough council is currently held by a coalition of Tories and Liberal Democrats. Tory leader Mike Bird said: “I don’t want a pact with UKIP. They have one major policy – to get us out of Europe. Residents deserve better than that.”
Opposition Labour leader Tim Oliver added: “I think it’s highly unlikely that we’d see any pacts in Walsall.”
There is also no chance of any pacts with Labour in Sandwell, where the party has all but five of the 72 seats. UKIP is a concern for the opposition Tory party on Cannock Chase Council, however, after three councillors defected earlier this year.