Carswell: More defections possible

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Published: Saturday 18th October 2014 by The News Editor

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A Ukip win in Rochester and Strood could trigger defections from Labour and Tory MPs, Douglas Carswell has hinted.

The former Tory, who became Ukip’s first elected MP after his landslide win in the Clacton by-election, said politicians in both of the main parties were reflecting on their positions ahead of next May’s general election.

Fellow Tory defector Mark Reckless hopes to return to the Commons as the MP for Rochester representing his new party in the November 20 contest, but the Tories are mounting a major effort to halt the Ukip bandwagon.

Mr Carswell, who was met with silence from his former Conservative colleagues as he returned to the Commons, said it was clear that MPs from the two main parties were “thinking about their future”.

He said that if Ukip won in Rochester and Strood then the “silent, reflective doubt” would become “something far more kinetic and animated and urgent”.

But he said that Ukip had to maintain a sense of perspective following his landmark win.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster, Mr Carswell reflected on his return to the Commons: “There was silence, I wouldn’t describe it as icy silence, I think a lot of people on both sides were a little uncertain.

“There’s change coming to politics and I think a lot of them sat there and were thinking about what the future holds for them personally in six months’ time.”

Asked if former colleagues had indicated they were tempted to join him, he said: “It’s clear from conversations I’ve had that some people are thinking about their future … on both sides.

“I think a lot of people are thinking ‘is this a re-run of the SDP or is this perhaps something fundamental and profound. I have to keep reminding myself that, actually, it’s neither.

“So far we have won a single seat, we need to keep a sense of perspective.

“It’s also important to mention that, actually, attention isn’t really on me any more, attention is on Rochester.

“If Ukip wins Rochester, and I think we can – it’s going to be tough – but if we win Rochester then I think much of that silent, reflective doubt will become something far more kinetic and animated and urgent.”

Mr Carswell, who has been allocated a windowless office in the Houses of Parliament by the Tory whips, said it felt “very different” being back in the Commons.

“The real story is how friendly my former colleagues have been,” he said, although there were “one or two people in the whips office who are little bit huffy and petty”.

Published: Saturday 18th October 2014 by The News Editor

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