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Resignation and defection at Conservative Conference

Two high-profile resignations on the eve of the Conservative Conference in Birmingham have led to questions about a ‘crisis’ in the Tory party. 

On Saturday Rochester and Strood MP Mark Reckless announced that he would be defecting to UKIP. He is the second Tory MP to defect to UKIP after Clacton MP Douglas Carswell did the same in August. 

Rochester added that he will seek re-election in his constituency for UKIP. 

Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP, said his new party member had shown huge courage, adding: “He has thrown his lot in with us and we will do everything we can to get him elected.” 

The move triggered much anger in the Conservative camp, with party chairman Grant Shapps telling the conference faithful they had all been “betrayed” by the actions of Reckless. 

Michael Dugher MP, Labour’s shadow minister for the cabinet office, said the defection was a “hammer blow” to David Cameron's authority. 

Just hours later, the conservatives were facing another blow with Tory MP for Braintree Brooks Newmark resigning as minister for civil society following Sunday Mirror allegations he shared sexually explicit images of himself with an undercover reporter over social media. 

In a statement he said: “I have decided to resign as minister for civil society having been notified of a story to be published in a Sunday newspaper. I would like to appeal for the privacy of my family to be respected at this time. 

“I remain a loyal supporter of this government as its long-term economic plan continues to deliver for the British people.” 

A Downing Street spokesperson said the prime minister had accepted Brooks Newmark’s resignation from his role as minister for civil society. He will be replaced by Rob Wilson MP. 

David Cameron admitted on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show that the start of the last Tory conference before the general election had been overshadowed by the defection of Reckless and the resignation of Newmark. 

The prime minister said: “Well, I have to admit it has not been an ideal start. I think I am prepared to say that.” But he dismissed the defection of Reckless as counter-productive on the grounds that he is the only prime ministerial candidate in next year’s general election who could guarantee an EU referendum. 

(Image: c. PA Wire and Gareth Fuller) 

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Harry Blakeley   29/09/2014 at 12:43

Wasn’t it strange that David Cameron had several days in which to ‘recall’ Parliament to get the vote on sanctioning air strikes against I.S. or even better had a ‘members vote’ at conference but no, he deliberately chose to do this in a blatant attempt to draw all [NEWS] attention away from the UKIP conference and any policy announcements that would be issued. He and the conservative party must be incredibly worried about Nigel Farage and the huge surge in UKIPs support to pull such an underhand stunt as this. The BBC obviously supported this scheme by constantly airing library (not news) shots of Tornado aircraft who eventually flew out for a seven hour ‘recon’ flight even after the reporter alluded to the fact the recon pods had been replaced with weaponry. How much did it cost the tax payer to send two Tornado’s on such a trip just to keep focus off UKIP I wonder?

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