Tory anger as MEP Helmer defects to UKIP

 

Maverick Tory Euro MP Roger Helmer defends his decision to defect to UKIP.

Euro MP Roger Helmer's decision to leave the Conservatives and defect to UKIP hasn't come as a huge surprise.

No doubt in Downing Street, 'Team Cameron' will be saying good riddance.

But for many Euro-sceptic Tories, the defection will be a disappointment. Mr Helmer may have some explaining to do.

He was first elected an MEP for the East Midlands 13 years ago and was always top of the Conservatives' regional list of candidates.

He'd led the charge for rank and file Tories unhappy over a host of issues - the EU, climate change and political correctness.

He is a one-man Daily Mail editorial and, for a Conservative Euro-sceptic audience, he was box office.

'Huge asset'

It's no surprise that UKIP leader Nigel Farage was full of praise for his new political prize.

"Roger will be a huge asset for UKIP. He says what many Tories feel about Europe and David Cameron's government," he said.

Start Quote

Nigel Farage

Roger will be a huge asset for UKIP”

End Quote Nigel Farage UKIP leader

"I'm sure many other Tories will follow Roger and join UKIP."

The defection was announced at UKIP's spring conference at Skegness.

Over recent months, it was on the cards.

At the Conservative conference last October in Manchester, Helmer irritated the party high command by publishing an alternative leader's speech on the eve of David Cameron's big address.

Helmer's alternative was a wish list for Tories biting the carpet over the coalition; top of the pile was an early referendum for Britain to leave the EU.

But the big fall out was just before Christmas and Helmer's wish to step down early as an MEP.

At 68 and with two years until the next Euro elections, he said he wanted more time to spend with his grandchildren.

Political travel

Start Quote

European Parliament

"I am shocked and disappointed at Roger Helmer's decision to betray his public promises”

End Quote Rupert Matthews Conservative Euro candidate

He also attempted to manoeuvre his Conservative Euro-sceptic soul-mate Rupert Matthews as his replacement: Matthews was next candidate in line on the Conservatives' regional list.

The party leadership - worried about the prospect of another Helmer-style maverick - stalled the succession process.

Roger fumed and warned the party chairman Baroness Warsi of consequences.

So Helmer's direction of political travel took him to Skegness and the embrace of Nigel Farage.

But this former Conservative may find the political winds from Skegness becoming rather bracing.

His would-be successor Rupert Matthews voiced his dismay.

"I am shocked and disappointed at Roger Helmer's decision to betray his public promises to the people of the East Midlands and his private promises to his colleagues," said Mr Matthews in a statement.

Unrepentant figure

Start Quote

Roger Helmer

UKIP represents the values and interests of East Midlands Conservatives much better than Cameron's Tory Party”

End Quote Roger Helmer MEP Defected to UKIP

And Emma McClarkin, Helmer's former press officer and now the only East Midlands' Conservative MEP was equally angered.

"He has let down a lot of people and importantly the people who voted for the Conservative Party," she said.

The man himself is unrepentant.

"The fact is that UKIP represents the values and interests of East Midlands Conservatives much better than Cameron's Tory Party does," he said.

"I believe I can do a better job representing those views and interests as a member of UKIP than I could in the Tory Party."

But if David Cameron hopes Mr Helmer's defection removes a thorn, he may discover that this Tory is more of a nuisance now he's out of the party.

 
John Hess, Political editor, East Midlands Article written by John Hess John Hess Political editor, East Midlands

Cities warn of need for new powers

East Midlands cities will lose out without new powers, warns leader.

Read full article

Comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1.

    "He has let down a lot of people and importantly the people who voted for the Conservative Party," she said.
    The man himself is unrepentant.

    I agree, Cameron has a lot to answer for !

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 2.

    I am not so sure it was expected as only a few months ago Helmer defended his membership of the Conservative Party. His views have bee consistent and he is in a better home now.

    It is interesting to me that Helmer's departure from the Conservatives is said, by the BBC, to require explanation whereas defections TO the old Westminster Parties or among them seem to be accepted without comment.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 3.

    Not being reported on the TV news then ?

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 4.

    So how long will UKIP have this MEP before he stands down, and which party gets to inherit when he does?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 5.

    I have seen Helmer's speech at Skegness and completely understand his choice to defect to UKIP.The tory party have let the tory voters down not Roger Helmer.Cameron has proven he is a spineless coward who cares more about what Sarkozy,Merkel and rest of EU think rather than the majority of the British people who want a referendum. No refer. though,he will be too afraid of upsetting Sarkozy etc

 

Comments 5 of 11

 

This entry is now closed for comments

Features

  • Krak des ChevaliersSitting targets

    How ancient treasures in Syria are being bombed to pieces


  • Mesut Ozil's tattoo reads "Only God can judge me"Ink explained

    Nine World Cup players' tattoos decoded, and one who refuses


  • Google sweetsName game

    Would Google have made it as BackRub?


  • Putting a coin in supermarket trolleyMinor annoyance

    Why are Morrisons getting rid of coin-locks on trolleys?


  • A graphic on the Human Events Facebook page comparing Jackie Kennedy and Michelle Obama.First ladies

    Why is Michelle Obama being compared to Jackie Kennedy?


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.