Following on from the news earlier this week that UKIP would actively support a handful of Conservative candidates, the Kent Messenger reports that the UKIP candidate in Rochester and Strood, Robin Johnson, has stood aside and given his backing to the Conservative, Mark Reckless (pictured).
UKIP released the following brief statement:
"Robin was due to represent this constituency but has stood down in order to put country before party. This is part of UKIP's unique strategy of standing down candidates in areas where there is another euro-sceptic candidate standing."
Mark Reckless welcomed the move:
"I am on record as saying I believe in trading with Europe but governing ourselves. If UKIP had not stood last time, I do believe that I would have become an MP five years ago."
Indeed so: when he stood against Labour MP Bob Marshall-Andrews (now retired) in Medway (the old name for this slightly redrawn seat), he was 213 votes behind the successful Labour candidate, while UKIP trailed in fourth with 1,488 votes. Whilst I would not conterst that all those votes would otherwise have been cast for the Conservatives, the margin of victory was so close in this case that Mark's assertion is a fair one.
If there are any other examples of UKIP candidates withdrawing, please let us know.