Tory MP defects to UKIP

AN Essex MP has defected to the UK Independence Party, a month after resigning the Conservative whip in protest at the party's “failure” to protect him from possible deselection at the next election.

AN Essex MP has defected to the UK Independence Party, a month after resigning the Conservative whip in protest at the party's “failure” to protect him from possible deselection at the next election.

Bob Spink, who was first elected MP for Castle Point in 1992, becomes the first serving Member of Parliament to join UKIP, which wants Britain to quit the European Union.

In a statement released by UKIP, he accused the Conservative Party of being “dishonest” with the public over its policies on Europe.

“I am delighted to join the UKIP team, helping to fight for Britain's interests in Europe and for better policy on the issues that really matter to people.

“I have been increasingly disappointed with the Tory Party's failure to be honest with the public on a wide range of issues like pensions, crime, immigration and defence, which is why I voted against the Tory whip so often in recent years and finally resigned the whip last month.”

Jeffrey Titford, who became UKIP's first elected politician from this region after winning a seat in the European Parliament, said: “I am very pleased that UKIP's first Member of the House of Commons is from the East of England.

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“The Eastern Counties have a strong EU-realist pedigree as the results of the last two European Elections have shown. Bob will be a major asset to the Party and may be a catalyst for future electoral success.”

The party's leader, Nigel Farage, described Mr Spink as “hard working and deeply principled” while UKIP peer Lord Willoughby de Broke said he was “thrilled” that the party at last had a representative in the House of Commons.

Mr Spink, who had been in dispute with his local Tory Party which had threatened to deselect him, said he had no intention of resigning his seat and fighting a by-election. “I was elected as Bob Spink. I work hard for my constituents and I will continue to do so.

“I am following to the letter every word that I promised them in my manifesto and I only wish that the parties were doing the same, including the Tory Party.

“They heap criticism on other parties for bringing the EU Reform Treaty forward, and yet they refuse point blank to do anything about it if they get power. That is a dishonest position to hold with the public.”

Labour's Euro MP for the East of England Richard Howitt said: “Mr Spink has done only what other Tory MPs are thinking - the disastrous and wrong-headed policy that Britain would be better off without Europe.

“If he fights Castle Point under UKIP colours, Labour will defeat him on the arguments and stand every chance of winning back the seat against a divided right-wing vote.”

Mr Spink was elected in 1992 by was defeated by Labour in 1997. Four years' later, he regained Castle Point and held in 2005 with a majority of 8,201. In that election, UKIP polled 7.5% of the vote, one of the few seats where they saved their deposit.

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