Ukip hints at Labour defections

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NIGEL Farage has said he is in talks with Labour MPs after the latest shock defection.

The Ukip leader refused to rule out the prospect of further defections after he unveiled Conservative MP Mark Reckless as the newest party member.

Mr Farage was joined on stage by the defecting MP in Doncaster - less than 24 hours before the before the start of the Tory party conference.

“There are a number of Labour back benchers very unhappy with Ed Miliband,” a jubilant Mr Farage said.

Mr Reckless used a TV interview after his defection announcement to confirm hehad started considering his options before Douglass Carswell announced his defection and a Claction by-election.

The Rochester and Stroud MP will now fight a by-election for the seat he holds with a 10,000 majority.

Announcing his decision Mr Reckless dismissed the Prime Minister’s promise of an in/out referendum on membership of the European Union.

He said: “I’m afraid I have reluctantly reached the view that he is doing so purely as a device. He has already pre-ordained his intended outcome, namely continued membership of the EU on something very close to the present terms.

“Everything else is for show.

“What the Prime Minister has in mind, and it’s not even a secret at Westminster, is modelled on what Harold Wilson did in 1975 - a bogus renegotiation followed by a loaded referendum.”

He added: “In this hall we want a straight referendum, an honest referendum. In or out, no fudge, no conjuring trick.”

The Tories described Mr Reckless’ defection as “completely illogical”.

A Conservative spokesman said: “Mark Reckless’ decision to join Ukip is completely illogical. He says he wants action on a European referendum, tax and immigration. The only party capable of delivering on these issues is the Conservative Party - and a vote for Ukip is a vote for Ed Miliband.”

Mr Farage told the conference that polling shows Mr Carswell is on course to win with 56% of the vote, pushing the Conservatives into second on 24%.

The poll by Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft suggests that Ukip will also take seats in South Thanet - where the Ukip leader is standing - Boston and Skegness, Eastleigh and Thurrock.

Mr Farage said: “We fought the European elections, if you think about it, as a shot gun. We needed to put the message as far and wide as we possibly could, we needed to get every vote we could from Land’s End to John O’ Groats.”

He added: “So now whilst we have to fight everywhere, we have to focus and target our resources both human and financial on the right constituencies, it’s called targeting. We haven’t declared yet how many target seats there are going to be, the reason for that is we don’t know, because British politics is in the biggest state of flux it’s been in my lifetime and things are changing very, very quickly.”