TORY MP John Baron has denied rumours he is planning to follow Tory defector Douglas Carswell into Ukip.
The Basildon and Billericay MP is known to have been an outspoken critic of Tory Prime Minister David Cameron on Europe.
However, he has denied being one of eight Tory backbenchers millionaire Ukip donor Stuart Wheeler claims to have invited to defect. In the wake of last Thursday’s shock defection and resignation of Clacton’s Tory MP Mr Carswell, Mr Wheeler has refused to say who he has spoken to.
Last year Mr Baron led a campaign, calling on Mr Cameron to hold a referendum on the UK’s continued European Union membership.
Then, after seeing Tory councillors lose out badly to Ukip in May’s council elections, Mr Baron said Downing Street “must learn from past mistakes”.
He added: "First it tried to ignore, and then insult, Ukip.
“It then took back-bench campaigns to get a referendum, and then support for legislation. But even now mistakes are being made.”
However, after Mr Carswell’s defection, Mr Baron has insists he remains loyal to the Tory Party.
Mr Baron has been celebrating his wedding anniversary and so has not responded to calls from the Echo.
However. speaking to ITV on Friday, he said: “I would rather Douglas hadn’t defected, but I think it will focus minds.
“I think it will also remind the electorate there are challenges ahead on the issue of Europe, but we have a very strong message as a party.
“We are the only party capable of delivering a referendum in 2017.”
Other Tories rumoured to have entered talks with Ukip include Harwich and North Essex MP, Bernard Jenkin, who has previously praised Nigel Farage’s party’s “clear European stance”.