The UK’s anti-EU party, UKIP, gains another Conservative as Mark Reckless, Member of Parliament (MP) for Rochester and Strood, announces his decision to abandon his party and join UKIP on the eve of the Tory conference.
This is the Conservative’s second defection to the Eurosceptic party in just a few weeks. Douglas Carswell, Tory MP for Clacton, Essex, defected to UKIP on August 28th, triggering a by-election which is due on October 9th.
Mr. Reckless announced at the UKIP conference that he has resigned as an MP, sparking another by-election.
Both defectors will run for their old seat, but this time for another party. Pundits expect the two of them to win.
Mr. Reckless said his decision to leave the Tories has not been an easy one. He claims to have spent many sleepless nights talking it over with his wife and thinking about the future of his children.
Ross Perot helped Bill Clinton win against George Bush Senior, and UKIP helps Labour win – in both cases by siphoning off conservative votes.
Mr. Reckless said:
“But my decision is born of optimism, conviction Britain can be better, knowledge of how the Westminster parties hold us back, and belief in the fresh start UKIP offers. We all know the problem with British politics. People feel disconnected from Westminster.”
“Well, I can still remember the promises I made in Rochester and Strood at the last election, and I intend to keep them. I promised we would cut immigration. I promised we would deal with the deficit and then bring down taxes. I promised we would localize decisions, including over housing numbers. I promised more open and accountable politics. Above all, I promised to help get Britain out of the EU.”
“And shall I tell you something? I’ve found that it’s impossible to keep those promises as a Conservative. That is why I am joining UKIP.”
Britain needs skilled immigrants
He asked whether any Brit genuinely supported an immigration system that turned away the best and brightest from the Commonwealth, people with links and family in the UK, to make room for unskilled people from southern and eastern Europe.
“I promise to cut immigration while treating people fairly and humanely,” Reckless said “I cannot keep that promise as a Conservative. I can keep it as UKIP.”
UKIP attracts mainly otherwise Conservative voters who would like to see the UK leave the European Union. It claims to appeal to voters from Labour and the Liberal Democrats, but all evidence shows that if it is true, their numbers are tiny.
UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, welcomed Mr. Reckless and said:
“I am going to do everything I can to support Mark Reckless in that by-election. I shall be down there, I shall knock on doors, I shall do whatever it takes. This man has shown huge courage. He has thrown his lot in with us and we will do everything we can to get him elected.”
Mr. Farage says there are also many Labour MPs who are deeply frustrated with Ed Miliband’s leadership who he thinks will eventually join UKIP.
The majority of Britain’s business leaders tend to be conservative and pro-EU.