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Senior UKIP MEP David Campbell Bannerman defects to the Conservative Party

By Jonathan Isaby
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Picture 2 I am hearing whsipers from Brussels that a senior UKIP MEP is on the verge of quitting the party to join the Conservative Party and sit with the Conservative MEPs instead.

I'll tell you more as and when I have it...

10.15am update:

It has just been confirmed that David Campbell Bannerman MEP, former chairman and Deputy Leader of UKIP, is today joining the Conservative Party.

It represents something of a homecoming for the two-time UKIP leadership contender, who was chairman of the Bow Group in the early 1990s, a special adviser to Patrick Mayhew when he was Northern Ireland Secretary and a Conservative candidate at the 1997 and 2001 general elections.

He joined UKIP in 2004, serving as party chairman between 2005 and 2006, when he was appointed deputy leader by Nigel Farage, a post he held until 2010. He was elected a UKIP MEP for the East of England in 2009.

Here's his full statement:

"I have been increasingly impressed by the leadership shown by David Cameron in dealing with this country's problems. In particular, the Government's determination to clean up the economic mess left by Labour.

"Similarly in Europe, I have been pleased with the robust stance taken by David Cameron and Conservative MEPs over the EU budget negotiations and I believe that it is Conservative MEPs who are working hard to defend Britain's interests.  In contrast, as a member of UKIP I witnessed too many colleagues obsess with single issue politics, internal fighting, and shouting from the sidelines. This behaviour does nothing to serve the best interests of the British people.

"With the recent failings in domestic elections, the ditching of policies and the lack of any credible plan, UKIP has confirmed it is not a serious, credible, fully fledged political party but merely a pressure group. I have been a proud member of the Conservative Party in the past and I am proud to come home to the Conservatives today.  Once again, the Conservative Party is proving, as it has so many times before, that it is the only party that can be trusted to sort out Britain's economy and stand up for Britain in Europe.

"I stood for the European Parliament because I wanted to work for the best interests of the United Kingdom and my constituents in the Eastern region. I now feel that I can best serve them and their interests as a Conservative member of the European Parliament. Of course, I have not always seen eye to eye with the Conservative Party on every issue. I continue to believe personally that Britain should leave the EU but I also believe that while we are members we should fight our corner to secure the best deal possible."

And here's the reaction from two senior Conservatives:

Foreign Secretary William Hague:

"I am very pleased that we can welcome David Campbell Bannerman back to the Conservative Party.  The Conservative Party is bringing in people who want to work in the national interest to sort out Britain’s problems. I am sure David Campbell Bannerman will be a valuable member of our team in the European Parliament."

Martin Callanan MEP, Leader of the Conservative MEPs:

“I am delighted to welcome David Campbell Bannerman back into the Conservative Party and to our delegation in the European Parliament. This is another great sign of the growing influence of the European Conservative and Reformist Group (ECR) - now the fourth largest group in the European Parliament. We all look forward to working with David in championing the British national interest in Europe.”


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