Ukip candidate blasts 'stupid' Carswell
Roger Lord told Sky News that Mr Carswell was too scared to meet with him and "do a deal", and hinted that he might be willing to join the Conservatives.
"He can come down here, meet me face-to-face and do a deal, but he hasn’t got the guts to do it," he said. Ukip has insisted that its by-election rules allow general election candidate Roger Lord to be by-passed in favour of Mr Carswell.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that at least eight Tory MPs have dined with a Ukip donor, as speculation mounts about whether more Conservatives will follow Mr Carswell in defecting to the party.
Businessman Stuart Wheeler told Sky News this morning: "The number of people that I took out to lunch was about eight. Now I'm not saying they are all thinking about crossing the floor. But equally there's another eight I could have easily taken out to lunch or asked to come out to lunch and they may be thinking about it."
Richmond Park MP Zac Goldsmith earlier denied that he was among those considering defection, telling PoliticsHome: "I love UKIP's emphasis on direct democracy, Recall and so on, but they're hopeless on the environment".
David Cameron has described Mr Carswell's decision to join Ukip as "quite bizarre" and claimed it would help Ed Miliband win the election in 2015.
"He stood as a Conservative in 2010 when we weren't promising a referendum and he's left the Conservative party when we are promising a referendum. For someone who wants a referendum, it's a rather strange way to behave," he told the Guardian.
The attack came as a senior Ukip source told the World at One that the party was in discussion with up to ten Labour MPs about defecting to the party.
The source claimed that Ukip was talking to several "deeply unhappy" Labour MPs who were not in marginal seats and were unsatisfied with their party's direction.
But Shadow Defence Secretary Vernon Coaker hit back this afternoon, telling the BBC: “I’m not about to jump and you won’t see other Labour MPs jumping."