Kettering’s Conservative MP Philip Hollobone has insisted he will not be leaving the party for UKIP.
There has been speculation linking Mr Hollobone with a defection to Nigel Farage’s party following a similar move by Clacton MP Douglas Carswell last week.
But Mr Hollobone, who also serves as a Kettering borough councillor, has moved to end those suggestions, saying: “I am not defecting to UKIP.”
Pointing out that the then-leader of UKIP, Lord Pearson, came to Kettering to campaign for him at the last General Election, he added: “I believe that we need a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU and should we ever get that referendum I shall be voting for Britain to leave the EU so that we can get back control over our borders once again.
Mr Hollobone has previously said he hoped a deal could be struck to ensure UKIP suppported him again next time around. He and Mr Carswell were two of just six MPs actively endorsed by UKIP at the 2010 General Election, although UKIP says it plans to start its candidate selection process for the Kettering constituency this month.
An arch-Eurosceptic, Mr Hollobone has been the most rebellious MP during this Parliament, voting against the coalition Government on more than 150 occasions.
With UKIP sources last week saying other MPs had held talks about joining the party, speculation about Mr Hollobone’s future in the Tories had been mounting.
A number of Northants Telegraph readers have also reported being questioned by a political polling company as to which way they would vote if Mr Hollobone was the UKIP candidate.
Last year, Kettering councillor Jonathan Bullock said he had approached Mr Hollobone about a possible defection, adding: “It is clear that Philip agrees 100 per cent with UKIP policies and I invited him to think about joining us.”
This morning (Tuesday, September 2), bookmakers Ladbrokes still rated him as the 8/1 third favourite to be the next Conservative MP to defect to UKIP.
However, Wellingborough and Rushden Conservative MP and fellow right-winger Peter Bone told the Northants Telegraph immediately after Mr Carswell’s announcement last Thursday that he had no plans to jump ship.
Saying that move was “a mistake”, Mr Bone added: “I am a Conservative through and through and I have been since I was 15.”
Mr Hollobone had a majority of 9,094 over Labour’s Phil Sawford at the last election. Labour has already selected Rhea Keehn to be its candidate for 2015.