Abu Qatada fallout could benefit UKIP in Corby by-election

Only party committed to withdrawing from ECHR is targeting Louise Mensch's former supporters

Column LAST UPDATED AT 12:08 ON Tue 13 Nov 2012

THERE are fears among senior Tories that the backlash over Abu Qatada being allowed to stay in Britain will have an impact on Thursday's by-election in Corby.

Conservatives are already resigned to losing Louise Mensch's very marginal seat to Labour. Now they fear a late swing to UKIP, the only party committed to pulling out of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

If UKIP can begin to win over eurosceptic Tory voters in big enough numbers, then David Cameron can kiss goodbye to victory in the General Election in 2015 unless he reaches a pact with the breakaway party.

Anti-European feelings will certainly have  been fuelled this morning by the intervention of former counter-terrorism minister Baroness (Pauline) Neville-Jones. Speaking on the Today programme, the Tory peer said yesterday's ruling by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) was "making a monkey of the system".

She appeared to give her full support to furious Tory eurosceptic MPs such as Peter Bone who are asking: "Why can't we just put him on the next plane out of Britain?"

Neville-Jones said Britain should be free to act as it liked over Abu Qatada without any interference from the European Court of Human Rights. "Deportation is an executive power," she said. "I share the view that the executive ought to be able to exercise that power against someone who is not a British citizen."

In effect, she was saying Britain should give two fingers to SIAC, and the ECHR which underpins it, and send Abu Qatada back to Jordan to face trial for terrorism.

Home Secretary Theresa May made it clear to Tory MPs yesterday she would not give a two-fingered salute to the ECHR. After Neville-Jones's comments this morning, backbenchers will want to know why.

Instead, May is talking about getting the King of Jordan – due to visit Downing Street shortly - to tweak the Jordanian constitution to say it won't allow witness evidence obtained under torture. This might finally persuade SIAC and the ECHR that Abu Qatada can be deported. But that would mean going back to square one against Abu Qatada in the UK, and it could take years.

One senior Tory who saw this coming is Justice Secretary Chris Grayling. He opened the door to Britain leaving the ECHR in an interview with  ConservativeHome last week. The world, he said, has changed since the human rights convention was drawn up. People "who have an avowed intent to try to do damage to our society" are trying to use the ECHR to stop deportation, and the court and its jurisprudence "have moved far, far away from the original intention of the authors of the convention".

Even Nick Clegg, the Europhile leader of the Lib Dems, said this morning that Abu Qatada does not "belong" in Britain and the coalition would do everything it could to deport the radical cleric.

"We're determined to deport him," he told ITV's Daybreak. "We strongly disagree with the court ruling, we're going to challenge it, we're going to take it to appeal. We're absolutely determined to see this man get on a plane and go back to Jordan.

So much for hot air. Meanwhile, Abu Qatada is rubbing his hands with glee... along with UKIP leader Nigel Farage. · 

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If I understand it as right, there is an RAF Plane which goes to and fro to Afghanistan on a daily flying mission, so, why not just put this most undesirable offender on it, and open the tail plane and push him out. If he is not capable of pulling the rip cord of his parachute, then, what a shame!!!

Just a couple of points (1) UKIP are not a 'breakaway (Tory) party - we are an independent party made up of members from all political backgrounds and our appeal is to disillusioned voters from all parties (2) Corby represents a great opportunity for voters to finally say to the so-called '3 main parties' that your time is up, you've blown it and we're going to vote for people who actually stand for what we want and that is UKIP

Any other country would have him deported years ago but not the spineless Cameron and all his MPs and ministers! All traitors and grovellers to the EU, Brussels and the ECHR, never mind the SIAC (more traitors). Totally incompetent as a government and a laughing stock to the world!

Don't waste money on a parachute!

I couldn't have put it better myself.

Hang on a sec, this has been going on since 2001 Labour have to take a large part of the responsibility for how long he has been here. The Conservatives are the only ones who have even got close to deporting him. Shove him on a plane to Jordan today.

Shows that both Labour and the Lib/Cons are spineless!

What I'm totally failing to get a handle on, is why these good folk fight so determinedly to live in an evil decadent western society with all its depravities when they are being offered the chance, at no expense to themselves, to live out their lives in the paradise that they claim exists in more islamic societies.

All that you wrote is true, it is so true that opinion polls indicate that Labour will take the highest percentage of votes. UKIP is a joke, and electoral reform that conservatives want to do, the chances of getting something UKIP is much more limited

If I was Cameron, I would have ordered that he be placed on a plane, and deal with the fall out afterwards. What the worst that could happen?

Leandro - UKIP is such a 'joke' that in the last European Parliamentary elections we came second to the Tories and in the process beat both Labour and LibDems. At the next European elections we will beat the Tories also.I would have commented on your last sentence but unfortunately I could not with certainty follow your line of thinking.