Major Donor to U.K. Conservative Party Switches Support to UKIP

Businessman Arron Banks announces decision hours before PM David Cameron delivers last major conference speech prior to May election.

Reuters

REUTERS - A businessman who has given hundreds of thousands of pounds to British Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative party said on Wednesday he was switching his support to the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP).

The decision by Arron Banks, announced hours before Cameron delivers his last major conference speech to his party before a May 2015 national election, was designed to embarrass the British leader and persuade other Conservatives to follow suit.

"I've supported the Conservatives for a number of years but have come to the realisation that only UKIP supports my views," Banks said in a statement released by UKIP.

"Being a member of the EU is like having a first class ticket on the Titanic," he added, referring to the doomed ocean liner. "Economically, remaining in the EU is unsustainable."

His defection follows that of two Conservative lawmakers with UKIP working hard to try to create the impression that Cameron's party is falling apart because of what it says are his overly centrist policies.

William Hague, a senior Conservative lawmaker, told the BBC that Banks was not a senior figure in the Conservative party.

Banks could not be reached for immediate comment.