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A look back at Douglas Carswell's rollercoaster career as an MP

Douglas Carswell has had a colourful career as an MP. Credit: PA

Political shocks seem to be the norm these days, and there was another surprise today with the news that Clacton MP Douglas Carswell won't be standing for re-election in June.

Mr Carswell has certainly had a remarkable career as an MP, most notably defecting to Ukip and then quitting three years later.

Here's a look back at some of his most memorable moments. It certainly hasn't been dull...

  • The early days
Carswell was first elected in 2005. Credit: ITV News Anglia

After finishing second to Labour leader Tony Blair in Sedgefield (County Durham) in the 2001 General Election, Carswell decided to try his luck in Essex four years later - contesting the Harwich seat.

He went on to beat Labour's Ivan Henderson by the tightest of margins, winning by a majority of just 920, and was victorious again in 2010 in Clacton following the abolishment of the Harwich constituency.

On this occasion he won by more than 12,000 votes, establishing himself as a popular MP among his constituents.

  • Switching to Ukip
Carswell's shock decision to switch to Ukip caused quite a stir. Credit: PA

Despite being known as a Eurosceptic backbencher, Carswell surprised everyone when he defected to Ukip from the Conservatives in 2014.

He said he needed to make the move because he believed the Tories "weren't serious" about an in/out EU referendum and added that only Ukip could shake-up "the cosy little clique called Westminster".

Carswell also gave up his seat in Clacton which immediately triggered a by-election.

  • By-election victory
The by-election victory in 2014 was a historic moment. Credit: PA

Carswell was victorious in the subsequent by-election, again winning by more than 12,000 votes, but more importantly, gaining Ukip its first ever elected MP.

Speaking to ITV News Anglia following his triumph, Mr Carswell said that the days where only the two main parties would jockey for power were gone.

He was joined by leader Nigel Farage for a walkabout in Clacton the morning after the by-election where the pair were swamped by the press.

  • Strained relations
Carswell and Farage had a number of disagreements. Credit: PA

It wasn't long before Farage and Carswell weren't seeing eye-to-eye and a number of high-profile rows soon followed.

The pair first clashed in May 2015 about Carswell's refusal to spend £650,000 of taxpayers' money to hire 15 members of staff for his parliamentary office.

Things got even more heated just a few months later when Carswell called for Farage to step down as leader - saying Ukip "needed a fresh face at the top."

  • Job done
Carswell quit Ukip in March. Credit: PA

Following the country's decision to leave the EU last summer, there was a lot of speculation that Carswell would leave Ukip and so it proved in March 2017.

Carswell declared that it was "job done" after helping the party fulfil their ultimate goal and said he was departing "amicably and cheerfully."

He vowed to carry on as an Independent MP, but had a change of heart after Theresa May's decision to call a snap election - meaning the seat is up for grabs in seven weeks time.

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