A Northamptonshire MP who was politically close to a colleague who today (Thursday) defected to UKIP says he believes the decision is a mistake.
Peter Bone, Conservative MP for Wellingborough and Rushden, was speaking to the Northants Telegraph after Douglas Carswell announced he was joining Nigel Farage’s party.
Mr Carswell will now contest a by-election in his Essex seat of Clacton for UKIP, and Mr Bone said: “I am very surprised – I think it’s a mistake.
“The problem we have is that the Conservatives and UKIP agree on a number of key matters – a vote on the EU, wanting to control immigration and end the wind farm folly.
“Douglas going across to UKIP doesn’t help that.”
“I understand entirely why people vote UKIP but if you do you’re more likely to get a Labour MP.”
Mr Bone, Mr Carswell and Kettering MP Philip Hollobone have been among the most outspoken Tory backbenchers during this Parliament, rebelling on a number of matters including the United Kingdom’s relationship with Europe.
Mr Bone said: “Douglas has been one of the key players and one of our colleagues in this argument, and up until the summer recess he was very supportive of the Prime Minister’s position.”
He added that he would not follow Mr Carswell’s lead of leaving the party, saying: “I am a Conservative through and through and I have been since I was 15.
“I will be supporting the return of a Conservative candidate in Clacton at this by-election.”
Meanwhile, UKIP’s only councillor in the north of the county said he hoped Mr Bone and Mr Hollobone could be persuaded to join his party.
Jonathan Bullock, councillor for the Queen Eleanor and Buccleuch ward on Kettering Borough Council, said: “It sends a message to those MPs who are like-minded, like Philip Hollobone and Peter Bone, that they should have the courage of their convictions.”
Cllr Bullock, who himself defected from the Conservatives, added: “They would be very welcome to join us because they share our views.”
Douglas Carswell and Nigel Farage were together at a reception in Northamptonshire last night, and Cllr Bullock said: “There was a twinkle in his eye – obviously he had the bombshell to prepare for this morning.”