Conservative MP Mark Reckless defects to UKIP

Mark Reckless with Nigel Farage Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mark Reckless made his announcement at the UKIP conference in Doncaster

Mark Reckless has always been a bit of a maverick - not someone who toes the party line.

In April last year Mr Reckless was less than impressed when the Home Secretary Theresa May cracked a joke at his expense at the Home Affairs Select Committee telling him that to break the law would be - "dare I say it" - a "reckless" move.

Some might describe his decision as somewhat "reckless" - defecting from the Conservatives to join UKIP.

In recent weeks, I have suspected it was a move he was pondering.

He is a close friend of Douglas Carswell - the first Tory MP to defect to UKIP.

They share the same views on Europe and both support Britain leaving the EU.

'Fine fellow'

I've asked him several times recently if he was contemplating following in Mr Carswell's footsteps.

He told me a week or two ago he was unlikely to stand for UKIP unless they put a UKIP candidate up in his ward to stand against him.

Like many Conservative MPs he was nervous of UKIP in his backyard.

They didn't stand in Rochester and Strood at the last election.

Mr Farage has spoken warmly of Mr Reckless - often saying he's "a fine fellow" and if he wanted to join UKIP he'd be very welcome.

He has now decided to take that leap, becoming the second Tory MP to join UKIP in the past month, and on the eve of the Conservative Party conference the timing could hardly be more damaging.

'Comfortable majority'

He says he wants action on a European referendum, tax and immigration.

The Conservatives have branded his decision to join UKIP completely illogical and say the only way to get action on those issues is to vote Conservative.

But there's no doubt they'll be rattled by his decision.

Mr Reckless triggered a by-election with his announcement and he invited UKIP delegates to come to his constituency and campaign with him.

He has a comfortable majority of almost 10,000.

Within a matter of weeks UKIP could have their first MPs at Westminster.

David Cameron must be asking himself will any more follow?