Tories left shocked by MEP’s defection

MEP Roger Helmer with Rupert Matthews
MEP Roger Helmer with Rupert Matthews

A Blisworth Conservative who was set to take over the East Midland seat at the European Parliament has said he is shocked and disappointed after the MEP Roger Helmer defected to UKIP.

When Mr Helmer announced he was standing down last year, Blisworth author Rupert Matthews was set to take over his seat in Brussels having come third in the 2009 European Elections. But last Saturday Mr Helmer withdrew his resignation and cited serious policy disagreements with the Conservative Party as the reason for his defection during the UKIP spring conference in Skegness.

Mr Matthews said: “Since Roger announced that he was standing down as MEP, many people in the East Midlands have spent a considerable amount of time and effort in preparing for Rogers retirement, my taking his place in Brussels and the unavoidable upheavals that this would have entailed.”

Mr Matthews added: “It is unfortunate that all this time and effort has been rendered useless by Roger’s actions.”

In a statement Mr Helmer said his relationship with the Tory had become increasingly tenuous and that UKIP was closer to the conservative values which had bought him into politics. He said: “Peter Oborne has described UKIP as “The Conservative Party in exile”. He has a point. UKIP is closer than the Tory Party to the conservative principles and values that brought many of us into politics in the first place.”