Several key Conservative donors who were part of an elite £50,000 a year Tory club have defected to UKIP.
One former member, Adrian Buckley, said he had become disillusioned by the Prime Minister’s leadership and said David Cameron’s “obsession with gay politics is a nonsense”.
Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP, said “five or six” former members of the Leader’s Group, a club for the wealthiest Tory donors, were now contributing to UKIP.
Members of the Leader’s Group pay £50,000 a year “annual membership” in exchange for drinks and dinner receptions with the Prime Minister and other senior Conservative MPs.
Other donors to the Conservative Party who have moved to UKIP include Graham Taylor, the children’s author, and Andrew Charalambous, who is a former Tory candidate and now the UKIP housing spokesman.
Former Tory donor Stuart Wheeler, who is now UKIP’s treasurer, said the party had been “getting a great deal of interest from people who were once Conservatives”.
He said a lot of donors restricted their contributions to less than £7,500 a year in order to remain anonymous.
Mr Wheeler said: “I think we’ve had about 3,000 new members [paying £30 each] in the past few months”, adding that the biggest issues attracting new donors were immigration, law and order and the economy.
In February Lord Ashcroft, the Tories’ largest donor, said he will not fund the Tory party because of David Cameron’s obsession with issues like gay marriage.
The Peer, who has given over £10 million to the Tories, says he’s still a Conservative but wonders whether Mr Cameron is.
A close friend told the Daily Mail: “He thinks Cameron is too easily distracted by fringe issues which only the metropolitan elite care about, such as gay marriage.”
It follows news that grassroots membership in the party has taken a nose-dive largely because of the Prime Minister’s obsession with the issue.
There have been numerous resignations of senior local activists, and widespread grassroots discontent at Mr Cameron’s plans.