Lord Stevens of Ludgate's appointment to Express papers could signal backing for Ukip
Lord Stevens of Ludgate's appointment to Express papers could signal backing for UkipYouTube

Newspaper magnate Richard Desmond has only just recruited Ukip Peer Lord Stevens to the Express, and already the paper has declared one in three voters is ready to back the anti-EU party.

The results of a YouGov poll, which showed that 31% of British voters would side with Ukip if they believed it could win in their constitutency, were published by the Express just three days after the appointment of Stevens.

Taken together, the two decisions will only fuel speculation that Desmond's flagship title will be the first paper to back Nigel's Farage's party ahead of next year's general election.

If rumours about shifting allegiances turn out to the correct, then it would not come as much as a surprise given how closely aligned the Express and Ukip seem to be on topics including national sovereignty, immigration and 'Brussels bureaucrats.'

Lord Stevens of Ludgate - as he is formally known - joined Ukip after being expelled from the Tory party for endorsing a letter in favour of the fringe party, back in 2004.

The Express, meanwhile, was a solid Tory paper until Desmond switched support to New Labour during the Blair years. This changeability makes it difficult to predict too confidently whether Stevens' appointment means the Express is poised to ditch David Cameron's party for Ukip.

However it is clear to see that Stevens will be entering familiar territory when he enters Desmond's Northern & Shell publishing empire – which includes the Express, Sunday Express, Daily Star and Star on Sunday.

Stevens used to oversee the papers as chairman of United Newspapers, so being deputy chairman of Northern & Shell should be like coming home for him. Farage hailed Stevens as "a giant of Fleet Street" when introducing him at Ukip's 2012 conference.

The confluence of Stevens' appointment and the mirroring of the Express' right-wing rhetoric with Ukip's populist message, could be a match made in heaven.