Mark Reckless, Conservative MP for Rochester and Strood, announced his defection to Ukip at the party’s conference in Doncaster today. Here’s what he said:
Today I am leaving the Conservative Party and joining UKIP. These decisions are never easy and this certainly has not been. It is a decision I make from optimism. Born from belief that Britain can be better and of my knowledge of how the Westminster parties hold us back and my belief of the fresh start UKIP offers.
We all know the problem of British politics. People feel disconnected. Disconnected is too mild a word. People feel ignored. Taken for granted. Over taxed. Over regulated. Ripped off and lied to.
They have reason to. With some honourable exceptions MPs are not local representatives but agents of a political class. Instead of championing their constituents interests, too often they champion their parties interests in their constituencies.
I remember the promises I made to my constituents in Rochester and Strood, and I intend to keep them. I promised we would cut immigration, cut the deficit so we could reduce taxes, decentralise power and promised we would have a more open and accountable politics.
And above all, I promised we would get our country out of the European Union. Shall I tell you something? I have found it is impossible to keep those promises as a Conservative and that’s why I’m joining UKIP.
If you vote UKIP, you get UKIP. I promise a straight in or out referendum. I can’t promise that as a Conservative, but I can as UKIP. I want to make the case for British independence.
In Rochester we have a castle and a cathedral and a lovely high street with independent shops. We’re less than an hour from London. Matthew Parris would love it.
Just as Douglas Carswell answers to his constituents in Clacton, I answer to those in Rochester and Strood. If I am to seek to represent them in different colours, I shall ask their permission.
I will resign my seat in Parliament, trigger a by-election and stand for UKIP. If we can win in Rochester and Strood, we can show that UKIP can break through right across the country.