A MEMBER of the European Parliament has left the Conservatives to join the United Kingdom Independence Party.
East Midlands MEP Roger Helmer announced his defection to UKIP at the party’s spring conference in Skegness on Saturday, citing serious policy disagreements with the Tories.
Mr Helmer said: “The fact is that UKIP represents the values and interests of East Midlands Conservatives much better than Cameron’s Tory Party does.
“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.
“The European project is collapsing before our eyes, yet the three main parties remain wedded to the Brussels dream. UKIP is the only party which is ahead of the curve on this issue, and on other issues as well.”
Mr Helmer has been a Conservative MEP since 1999 and was due to resign from the European Parliament at the end of 2011.
But he has now withdrawn his resignation and plans to fulfil his term until 2014.
Rupert Matthews, who was in line to succeed Mr Helmer, said: “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.
“Since Roger announced that he was standing down as the MEP, many people in the East Midlands have spent a considerable amount of time and effort in preparing for Roger’s retirement, my taking his place in Brussels and the unavoidable upheavals that this would have entailed.
“I myself was looking forward very much to representing the people of the East Midlands and the Conservative Party in the European Parliament. It is unfortunate that all this time and effort has been rendered useless by Roger’s actions.
“I wish to make it clear that I have no intention of following Roger to UKIP and that I will continue to serve the Conservative Party as loyally as I have in the 28 years since I joined the party. I will be working hard to ensure the return of Conservative candidates in the local elections in May and at the next European Election in 2014.”