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UKIP treasurer: 8 Tory MPs in preliminary defection talks

UKIP treasurer Stuart Wheeler donated £5 million to the Conservatives during the 2001 election campaign Credit: PA

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.