More MPs plotting defection: Farage

Published: Saturday 22nd November 2014 by The News Editor

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Labour and Conservative MPs will be considering whether to defect to Ukip over the coming days following its latest electoral victory, Nigel Farage has claimed.

The Eurosceptic party leader said he had been in talks with MPs from both sides and disgruntled backbenchers would now be crunching the numbers following the Rochester and Strood by-election to work out if they should jump ship.

Ukip’s first directly-elected MP, Douglas Carswell, predicted the party could win “dozens” more seats and suggested it could replace Labour as the main opposition.

David Cameron has vowed to win back the Kent seat for the Conservatives after Tory defector Mark Reckless – who stood down in order to trigger the showdown with his former party – regained the constituency with a majority of 2,920.

Labour, meanwhile, was plunged into turmoil following a Twitter gaffe that led to the resignation from the front bench of a close ally of Ed Miliband.

Mr Farage said he would “love these by-elections to continue forever”.

He told BBC 2’s Newsnight: “We have spoken to Labour people, of course we have, and we have spoken to Conservative people.

“I think what will happen is people will sort of suck their teeth and think about this and, you know, if you are an MP in a marginal constituency then you have got to think quite hard, particularly as a Conservative, you have got to think to yourself, ‘Well, would I have a better chance given how well Ukip did with the Labour vote in Strood yesterday?’.”

Conservative Chief Whip Michael Gove insisted he remained “100% certain” there would be no more defections to Ukip, although Leader of the Commons William Hague sounded less sure, saying: “I don’t have a crystal ball about what every MP will do.”

Mr Cameron is likely to come under renewed pressure from Tory Eurosceptics to harden his demands to repatriate powers from Brussels in order to curb immigration from the European Union.

Backbencher Andrew Bridgen called on Mr Cameron to counter the appeal of Ukip by promising to put himself at the head of the campaign to leave the EU if he was unable to achieve a satisfactory renegotiation of the terms of Britain’s membership.

“We need the Prime Minister to say that and I think that will take the legs from under Ukip,” he said.

While the Tories licked their wounds, it was also another bad night for Labour which was beaten into third place, raising fresh questions over Ed Miliband’s prospect of entering Downing Street.

“We know we have got a challenge in relation to Ukip. It’s a challenge I’m determined to meet,” the Labour leader said.

“I think what it says is that there is deep discontent about the country and there is also a scepticism about whether any mainstream political party can turn it round. Our fight, our job, is to show we can.”

The media spotlight turned on Labour amid the furore when Emily Thornberry was forced to quit as shadow attorney general after she tweeted a picture of a house draped in flags with a white van parked outside and captioned it “Image from Rochester”.

Mr Miliband said he was “furious” and accused her of showing a lack of “decency and respect” when she implied it was odd for people to have England flags in their window while out on the campaign trail in the Kent constituency.

Owner of the house Dan Ware branded the MP a “snob”.

Speaking on Sky News, Mr Miliband said: “I was angry because I thought her tweet gave a misleading impression when she photographed a house in which the family lived that somehow Labour had the wrong view of that family.

“It’s not the view we have of that family. Labour’s never had that view of disrespect and I’m afraid her tweet conveyed a sense of disrespect – that’s not my view, that’s not Labour’s view, it’s wrong, it never will be our view and that’s why I think it was right she resigned.”

Published: Saturday 22nd November 2014 by The News Editor

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