TORY MPs in south Essex have been warned “none of your seats are safe” after a Conservative swapped sides for Ukip.
Douglas Carswell, Conservative MP for Clacton, announced he was resigning from the House of Commons on Thursday, to stand as a Ukip candidate in a by-election.
At a press conference he said David Cameron was “not serious about change” on Europe and said the Government had failed to meet its promises on immigration, bank reform, reducing public debt and repealing red tape.
Now other Conservatives in Essex have been warned Ukip is after their seats at the general election next year.
Euro MP Tim Aker, who is also Ukip’s policy spokesman and its Thurrock candidate in next year’s elections, said: “My message to Tory MPs in Essex is none of your seats are safe any more – we are turning Essex purple.
“This by-election is going to start a domino effect all the way down the Thames Estuary.
“What starts in Clacton will end in Thurrock.”
Ukip’s leader on Basildon Council, Kerry Smith, said: “I think Douglas has done a very brave thing.
“Putting himself up in a by-election shows how confident he is of Ukip’s success – I think Essex is going to be a very purple place after next year’s local and parliamentary elections.”
South Essex Tories have been “stunned” by Mr Carswell’s decision.
John Baron, Basildon and Billericay MP, said: “I’m stunned, I’m surprised, and I think he’s made a mistake.
“Only the Conservative Party is going to be able to deliver a referendum on Europe in 2017.
“Labour and the Liberal Democrats don’t support that and Ukip won’t be able to deliver it.”
Castle Point MP, Rebecca Harris, said: “As a fellow eurosceptic I have always respected Douglas Carswell, but if he really wants to get Britain out of Europe, this is the wrong decision.
“The only way we will get an EU referendum and secure Britain’s long-term economic recovery is with a strong Conservative government after the next general election.”
Jackie Doyle-Price, whose own 92-vote majority in Thurrock is threatened by Ukip, said she felt Mr Carswell had madeamistake, adding: “The Conservative Party will deliver that, so I find it quite bizarre he wants to join Ukip.
“It flies in the face of what he said six months ago which was that everyone should stop rebelling.”
FORMER Castle Point MP, Bob Spink, who also moved to Ukip, said he wished he had held a by-election like Douglas Carswell.
Mr Spink, who lives in Benfleet, was elected to represent Castle Point as a Conservative in 1992 but, after joining Ukip in 2008, was defeated in the 2010 general election, by Tory Rebecca Harris.
He said he believed Douglas Carswell had done the right thing by calling a by-election and wished he had done the same. He said: “It’s right to hold a by-election and I regret not calling one myself “I think I would have won it if I had, just like I think Douglas will definitely win it – he will romp home.
“It will also enable Ukip to exert influence at Westminster and the party gain great credibility. It will show a vote for Ukip is not a wasted vote.”
Asked why he did not hold a by-election himself, Mr Spink said he believed at the time it would be a costly process and that voters did not like going to the polls too often.