As Paul recounted this morning, some kind of arrangement with UKIP after the election is not out of the question. If it was to happen, it’s likely this would be informal or even completely private – Farage would be mad to sacrifice his (not entirely accurate) outsider reputation when he has worked so hard to construct it. But there are many options short of any formal deal that could be handy (or necessary, depending on the circumstances).
In that context, it’s interesting to note that today’s launch of the UKIP manifesto featured two indications that Farage is keeping his options open on the matter.
Previously, the UKIP leader has made the sacking of Cameron a red line before he would consider any kind of deal with the Conservatives. However, when he was asked today if Cameron’s head would be the price of a deal in a hung parliament, he carefully avoided answering in the affirmative. If he was a Conservative, he’d want a different leader, he joked – but that’s a very different thing altogether.
The second intriguing choice of words is in the manifesto itself. When laying out the party’s position on Brexit, it says:
“UKIP believes British citizens should have an in/out referendum on our membership of the EU as soon as possible.”
That’s a slight but significant shift from the previously established UKIP line – namely, where’s the date for this referendum? In broadcast interviews, UKIP have been demanding it take place in the summer of 2015, but that condition gets no mention in the manifesto. “As soon as possible” isn’t an endorsement of a 2017 date, but nor is it a red line demand for the battle to take place this year. That leaves some clear wriggle room for a deal to be struck, if one is needed.
All of which is very interesting indeed.