In today's Daily Telegraph, the Moggster asks: "Is it,
therefore, now time to make a “big open and comprehensive offer” to Ukip? (Thereby mimicking the words David Cameron used to launch his offer to the Liberal Democrats after the 2010 election.) In marvellously politicianly vein, Rees-Mogg doesn't deploy the P-word at any point.
None the less, he writes that "there is also a closeness
between the grassroots of the two parties; many UKIP members were once
Conservatives and in both cases active support is stronger among the over
50s. This ought to make a collaboration reasonably straightforward. It is
also crucial." The right, he says, mustn't split – as the left did during the 1980s.
Rees-Mogg then takes the plunge: "The proposal ought to be at least as generous to Ukip in terms of
people and places as the current arrangement is to the Lib Dems. Most
Conservatives would rather see Nigel Farage as deputy Prime Minister than
Nick Clegg." However, he is careful to insist that UKIP mustn't choose the Tory leader.
He thus shields himself against accusations of personal disloyalty to David Cameron. Although Downing Street and CCHQ will strive to write the North-East Somerset MP off as an eccentric, his intervention is more significant, to my mind, than Nigel Lawson's. For he has set a precedent. He has become the first Conservative MP to call directly for the blue-purple pact – and Ministers.
Others will follow.