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No Sacred Cows  
Toby Young
Monday 4th February 2013

If Nigel Farage stands in Chris Huhne's seat, the Conservatives should not contest it

Chris Huhne's resignation as the member of Parliament for Eastleigh will mean a difficult by-election for the Conservatives and the Lib Dems. Huhne won in 2010 with a majority of just 3,864, making Eastleigh one of Grant Shapps's target seats. This is particularly awkward for David Cameron. In order to reassure his sceptical backbenchers, who think he's made far too many concessions to Nick Clegg as it is, he'll have to go all out to win, with frequent trips to the constituency. Not only will that mean an unseemly punch up between the Coalition parties – particularly if Clegg is out on the stump in Eastleigh, too – it will be hugely embarrassing for the Prime Minister if the Tories lose. Just the sort of set back, in fact, that will fuel more rumours of a leadership challenge.

But there's a solution at hand. According to Guido Fawkes, Nigel Farage is considering a run in Eastleigh, a seat he contested in 1994. Grant Shapps should get on the phone to Farage straight away and offer him a deal. The Conservatives won't contest the seat provided Ukip doesn't field candidates against any sitting Tory MPs in 2015. (To read more, click here.)

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