Something is happening in the UK’s anti-EU movement.
There are of course the well-documented defections of MPs Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless to UKIP. And at the time of writing, there may be a trickle of others – MPs and other noteworthy figures – moving in the same direction.
This caps a successful six months for the party which drew record votes at the European Parliament Elections, has experienced consistently higher opinion poll ratings, and has seen for the first time more than one opinion poll indicating its support at three times that of the Libdems. All of this against a backdrop of David Cameron sacking or demoting stars of the Right, Owen Paterson and Michael Gove.
But other moves – or non-moves – have arisen from those events:
1. Firstly Daniel Hannan had a golden opportunity to defect to UKIP in the wake of the Reckless defection. But, true to his word, he has not done so. It is now almost guaranteed that he will remain a Conservative.
2. Secondly, Owen Paterson is now freed from collective cabinet responsibility to speak his mind. He has wasted no time doing so and is in the process of setting up his own Conservative grouping which, in itself, makes clear that he will remain a Conservative.
3. Thirdly, EU historian, researcher and author Dr Richard North is moving into a position behind Owen Paterson thus making both stronger.
As a result, we will soon see a new force within the Conservative Party which effectively puts Paterson , North and Hannan in the same tent. This is no small matter: North has been critical of Hannan over a long period; a classic example of what some despairing voices say is the “Judean People’s Front” character of the UK’s anti-EU movement.
So we watch and we wait to see how this evolves. The approaching General Election is starting to focus all minds on the frustrations associated with Miliband, Cameron and, to some, Farage. Then again so is the promise of an In/Out Referendum.
There could be some further interesting developments just ahead of us.