Regional: UKIP MEP David Campbell Bannerman defects to Tories

EAST of England UKIP MEP David Campbell Bannerman has left the party and joined the Conservatives.

Mr Campbell Bannerman, who has been an MEP for two years, unsuccessfully bid for the UKIP party leadership last year.

He is now returning to the party he left in 2004, and said he was impressed by Prime Minister David Cameron’s stance on dealing with Europe.

Geoffrey Van Orden, the lead MEP for the region commented: “I know that David will make an excellent addition to the Conservative team, having seen his work as a constituency colleague over the past two years.

“He shares our view that the EU is overblown and heading in the wrong direction. We must do all that we can to trim its sails and steer it on a different course.

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“We very much look forward to working with him as we continue to champion the East of England’s interests and the British national interest in Europe.

“We are also particularly pleased that the European Conservatives & Reformists Group, which I am proud to have played a key role in forming, will now become the fourth largest political group in the parliament.”

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Labour MEP Richard Howitt said: “UKIP is in disarray, so it’s no surprise that some of its members want out.

“The twice failed UKIP leadership pretender has fallen out with his colleagues and is scuttling back to the Conservatives.”

A spokesman for UKIP said: “David has expressed his admiration for David Cameron, who has announced that he will not give the people of this country a referendum on Europe, because he believes we should stay in. He has some nerve criticising UKIP’s credibility.

“When he was chosen as a candidate for UKIP in 2008, David signed a statement that said that he would “remain as a member of UKIP for the full 5-year term or otherwise retire from the Parliament.

“We call on him to resign, so that we can get a real Euro-sceptic to take his place.”

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