FORMER cabinet minister Lord Tebbit has said Tories could not be blamed for turning to UKIP.

Ahead of tomorrow's local elections in England with UKIP predicted to do well by picking up the protest vote, the war of words inside the Tory Party on how it should respond to Nigel Farage's party continued, with the intervention of the Conservatives' former chairman.

Earlier this week, former Tory chancellor Ken Clarke, dismissed UKIP as a fringe party made up of "clowns" while London Mayor Boris Johnson urged fellow Con-servatives not to engage in "ill-advised insults" against the anti-EU party.

Lord Tebbit came out on Mr Johnson's side and condemned Mr Clarke's remarks as a "singularly ill-judged rant" and a "stupid" way of winning back voters who had deserted the party.

The Conservative peer said his party would suffer a "drubbing" in tomorrow's poll with "substantial numbers" of supporters shifting loyalties to UKIP.

In an attack on the current Tory leadership, Lord Tebbit said: "Of course, it may well be that many former Conservative voters are so fed up with the Cameron coalition they will turn to UKIP as the party which comes closest to a traditional Conservative agenda. One can hardly blame them."

The grandee claimed UKIP was now in the process of becoming a party with a "complete agenda for government" and even suggested voters in areas with a Labour councillor should consider backing it.