Conservative MP Douglas Carswell just announced that he is leaving the party to join the U.K. Independence Party (UKIP), temporarily giving the nationalist party one member of parliament and forcing a byelection. We saw the news first on The Huffington Post:
“It’s not enough that I leave the Conservative Party and join Ukip,” he said. “I will now resign from parliament and stand for Ukip in the by-election that must follow.”
The news is an embarrassment to prime minister David Cameron, whose party is split between those who favour staying in the European Community and those who want out, as UKIP followers do. It won’t undo his government, however.
Many hardline UKIP supporters had grown disenchanted with the party in recent years, claiming that it had strayed from its traditional values. With UKIP leader Nigel Farage seemingly isolated at the top of the party as its only credible leadership candidate, there had been concerns whether the shift had alienated UKIP’s supporters. Carswell’s defection will be seen as a major win for UKIP, signalling that Farage’s strategy is working, and bulking up the number of credible politicians amongst the party’s leadership.
Carswell’s Clacton seat is a safe Tory constituency. He had a majority of 12,068 at the last general election.
That makes Carswell’s choice an uphill battle. The Guardian reported:
Speaking at a Ukip press conference, in central London, flanked by leader Nigel Farage, Carswell said: “Things don’t have to be this way. I will be asking voters in Essex to help me change them.”
The maverick Eurosceptic backbencher said he wants to “shake up” the cosy Westminster “clique”.
Carswell was previously embroiled in the 2009 expenses scandal after claiming a £655 love seat on expenses, as well as “flipping” his second home in order to use his allowance to pay for furniture.
The defection will also remind people of the delicious moment when one of his fellow Conservatives, Claire Perry, told him to “f— off and join Ukip.”
That, apparently, has now happened.
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