Clacton: Douglas Carswell’s defection to UKIP ‘a bolt from the blue’

Douglas Carswell

Douglas Carswell - Credit: Archant

The defection of Douglas Carswell to UKIP has come as a “bolt from the blue” to his Clacton constituency.

Though he had long been viewed as having close ties to Nigel Farage’s party because of his strong anti-Europe views, Conservatives in Essex said they had been given no warning of the move.

Mick Page, the Conservative leader of Tendring District Council which covers Clacton, said: “That’s come as a shock - a bolt from the blue.

“We always thought he was a Conservative very much against Europe but we thought he would work within the party to achieve his aims.

“As far as I’m aware the Conservative association had no warning of this.”

Mr Page added it was difficult to predict what impact the move may have on the resulting by-election.

He added: “He had been getting ready to campaign in the general election and even very recently has sent out a great deal of material with Conservative branding on it.

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“This is very much a Tory area but who knows how the electorate will react.”

Phones at the Clacton Conservative Association office were engaged throughout the morning.

The council’s Labour leader, Ivan Henderson, said the defection was a sign of panic which may allow opposition parties to capitalise and make gains.

He claimed: “He’s seen the vote increasing for UKIP, seen the possibility he could lose his seat and panicked.

“Douglas has always been a maverick in terms of his party but this is an opportunistic move because he’s seen it slipping away from him.

“He has stood three times saying he would campaign to pull the UK out of Europe and it hasn’t happen.

“”There may be a backlash and the public may punish the Conservatives for betraying them over Europe.”