- 13 updates
Eight Conservative MPs have held preliminary talks about defecting to UKIP, the party's treasurer has claimed.
Stuart Wheeler has told The Daily Telegraph: “I have had lunch secretly if you like, in a completely confidential way, with eight different Tory MPs.”
Mr Wheeler, who was expelled from the Conservatives in 2009 after donating £100,000 to UKIP, has said he has passed their details onto the party's leader Nigel Farage.
A new poll suggests that 61% of Conservative supporters want Britain to leave the European Union provided it could maintain its close trading links.
The survey, carried by ComRes for The Independent, appears to show that 54% of voters feel the same way.
It comes on the day the Tory vice chairman Michael Fabricant suggested his party make an election pact with the UK Independence Party, which wants to quit the EU.
The Conservatives' ongoing difficulties over Europe have taken a new twist with calls for them to form a pact with UKIP.
Tory vice chairman Michael Fabricant said the two parties should consider their similarities but David Cameron and UKIP leader Nigel Farage said no deal could be done.
Watch this report from our Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship.
London mayor Boris Johnson has rejected the call for an election pact between Conservatives and the UK Independence Party (UKIP), declaring that voters have "had enough" of pacts and coalitions.
He added: "What they [voters] want is to see parties standing up individually for what they believe in."
Nigel Farage says the UK Independence Party (UKIP) is "at war" with the Conservative Party and criticised David Cameron for failing to backtrack on his claim in 2006 that UKIP members were mostly "closet racists".
He also hit out at the Prime Minister for failing to deliver a referendum on the European Union.
Paul Nuttall, UKIP's deputy leader, says any election pact with the Conservatives would be "very difficult" while David Cameron heads up the party.
"You really can't believe a word he says on the European Union and he's also a guy who called us closet racists," he said.
Nigel Farage has insisted that the UK Independence Party would not be "bought off" by the offer of a position in government.
Speaking on Sky News, he rejected a call by Tory MP Michael Fabricant for the Conservatives and UKIP to form an election pact.
The UKIP leader said:
The Conservative Party has spoken out against Michael Fabricant's call for an election pact between the Tories and the UK Independence Party (UKIP).
Michael Fabricant's call for an election pact between the Conservatives and the UK Independence Party (UKIP) looks destined for failure after Downing Street distanced itself from the idea.
A number 10 source said this morning that Fabricant, David Cameron's election adviser, does not speak for the party on strategy.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage has also poured cold water on the plan, tweeting: "The Fabricant deal seems to be based on buying me off. UKIP is bigger than that."
Latest ITV News reports
The PM and UKIP leader Nigel Farage have dismissed a suggestion by a Tory vice chairman that the two parties should make an election pact.