STAFFORD’S UK Independence Party (Ukip) is refusing to toe the party line by supporting Tory Euro sceptic David Chambers instead of fielding its own representative in a general election.
The party in the town wants to avoid anti-European voters being forced to split their vote between either themselves or the Conservatives - and allowing Labour’s David Kidney to remain in Parliament.
The move could anger senior Ukip members nationally as it goes against the party’s decision to field candidates in all constituencies rather than helping the Tories.
Speaking at the weekend, high-profile MEP Robert Kilroy-Silk said if the party refused to put candidates forward in some areas it would go against Ukip’s aim to "kill" the Conservatives.
Ukip’s main cash provider multi-millionaire Paul Sykes this week withdrew his backing because he believes standing against Tory Euro sceptics will be a disaster for the country.
He says Ukip cannot win a general election and standing in every constituency would damage the Tories, the only Euro sceptic party capable of forming a government.
Mr Sykes, who has funded many of Ukip’s campaigns, has now opted to support the Conservatives instead.
Paul Gilbert, Ukip’s Stafford constituency association chairman, said he was pleased by Mr Sykes’ decision.
"I am delighted that Mr Sykes has reinforced the commitment that I and the association have made," he said.
"This is a stance I feel we should make.
"It would be a pointless exercise for the Ukip to field candidates in constituencies with sitting Europhobe MPs or where there are stronger Europhobe candidates with a greater possibility than the Ukip of winning that seat.
"The probability will be to split the Euro sceptic vote and return a pro-European to Westminster. This is certainly self defeating.
"We should be consistent throughout the country as otherwise it will dilute the Euro sceptic vote."
Mr Gilbert said Stafford members would now use their energies to support Victor Chell, chairman of the South Staffordshire constituency, in his efforts to dislodge MP and pro European Sir Patrick Cormack.
Meanwhile, Mr Chambers, speaking from the Tory party conference in Bournemouth, said he was delighted with the news.
"I am a Euro sceptic. I support Michael Howard in wanting to pull powers back from Brussels," he said.
"If we were unable to do that then I personally would call for a referendum for the British people. I think Ukip members in Stafford are very happy to support that.
"A lot of people in all walks of life are unhappy with Europe’s role in their lives. If we have a third term Labour government we will enter the single European currency and that will lead to a federal Europe. The vast majority of people are totally opposed to that."
Mr Kidney said he was unconcerned by the news, but declined to comment any further.