28 Aug 2014

Defection of Tory MP to Ukip ‘self-defeating’ – Cameron

Conservative Party MP Douglas Carswell resigns as an MP and defects to Ukip, saying principles are more important than political careers. David Cameron describes his departure as “deeply regrettable”.

The Conservative MP for Clacton has resigned and there will be a by-election in his Clacton constituency, at which he will stand for Ukip.

Announcing his move in a press conference, he said that political principles were more important than his personal career as an MP. He said he believed David Cameron and senior Conservatives were not “serious about real change”.

“As someone who has always answered directly to the independent-minded people of Essex, there’s only one honourable thing for me to do – I must seek permission from my boss, the people of Clacton,” he said. “I will now resign from parliament and stand for Ukip in the by-election that must follow.”

The prime minister described Mr Carswell’s move was “deeply regrettable” and “counter-productive”, saying: “If you want a referendum on Britain’s future in the EU, whether we should stay or go, the only way to to get that is to have a Conservative government after the next election.”

Read Gary Gibbon's blog: By-election headache for Cameron as Tory MP defects to Ukip

Mr Carswell has been an MP since 2005 and frequently rebelled on Europe – including calling the establishment line a “dog’s breakfast” in 2011.

Speaking about the prime minister’s plan to renegotiate EU treaties as he stepped down as an MP, he said he believed the current policy was about power, not delivering change.

“It’s not about giving real change to our national interest, it’s about not changing things – it’s about hanging on to office. Once I realised that, my position in the Conservative party became untenable,” he said.

As someone who has always answered to the people of Essex, there’s only one honourable thing for me to do. Douglas Carswell

As Mr Carswell took his seat again at his press conference, Ukip leader Nigel Farage congratulated him on his decision.

“I think what you’ve just done is without doubt the bravest, most honourable and noblest thing I’ve seen in British politics in my lifetime,” he said.