DISGRUNTLED East Midlands MEP Roger Helmer has defected from the Conservative Party to UKIP after becoming disillusioned with David Cameron.
Mr Helmer, who has been a Conservative MEP since 1999, has cited “serious policy disagreements with the Conservative Party” as his reason for switching his political allegiance.
Mr Helmer, who made his annoucement at the UKIP spring conference in Skegness on Saturday, 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 also wrote a letter to his Conservative colleagues explaing that it had been a “tough decision” to take and would be met with “dismay” by many party members.
Mr Helmer stated: “In recent months my increasingly tenuous relationship with the party has been predicated primarily on people, not policies, and I cherish the hope that at least some of the good friendships I have made within the party, both in the East Midlands and in Brussels, over my dozen years as an MEP, will survive my change of allegiance.”
But Mr Helmer’s decision to defect to UKIP has been strongly criticised by local Conservative politicians.
Reacting on the social networking site Twitter, Tory MP for Daventry, Chris Heaton-Harris, said: “I honestly thought he was an honourable man; alas I was mistaken.”
David Mackintosh, leader of Northampton Borough Council, wrote: “Very disappointed to hear that Roger Helmer has joined UKIP. He was elected a Conservative so should do the honourable thing and resign.”
Mr Helmer was selected at the head of the East Midlands MEP Conservative list three times in a row, in 1999, 2004 and 2009.
He was suspended from the Conservative Party whip in May 2005 after voting against party instructions on a motion to censure the European Commission and openly criticising his delegation leader, Timothy Kirkhope, in a parliamentary debate.