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Owen Paterson dismisses 'laughable' Ukip switch claim

Former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has dismissed reports that he is considering joining Ukip as "absolutely laughable".

Mr Paterson, who is seen as a strong eurosceptic voice in the Conservative Party, hit out at the "unhelpful" defections of former Tory MPs Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless.

Owen Paterson strongly denied he was considering joining Ukip. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive/Press Association Images

He also hit out at Mr Reckless' suggestion that the UK could curb immigration by leaving the EU.

"When you see Mark Reckless saying getting out of the EU would solve it, I'm afraid his facts are wrong."

Mr Paterson pointed out that Switzerland and Norway have higher immigrant populations than the UK, despite not being EU members.

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Reckless 'trying to do the right thing' by constituents

Conservative defector Mark Reckless has rejected charges he acted in bad faith in leaving the party for Ukip.

The MP for Rochester and Strood insisted he was "trying to do the right thing by his constituents" and accused David Cameron of breaking his election promises.

Mark Reckless defected to Ukip on the eve of the Conservative Party conference. Credit: BBC/Sunday Politics

"I made a lot of promises to my constituents and I want to keep those promises on immigration, on the deficit, on political reform. The Prime Minister isn't keeping those promises, I want to do so and that's why I'm moving to Ukip," he told BBC's Sunday Politics.

"We made all these promises in 2010 as Conservatives and they have been broken."

Cameron: Ukip defection 'frustrating and rather senseless'

Prime Minister David Cameron has described Mark Reckless' defection to Ukip as "frustrating" and "rather senseless".

Asked on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show if he was aware Reckless was leaving the Conservatives, Cameron said, "Not specifically but ... he very rarely votes for the Government and has made his views known."

Prime Minister David Cameron. Credit: BBC/Andrew Marr Show

"Look, these things are frustrating and frankly they are counterproductive and rather senseless," he continued.

"If you want to have a European referendum, if you want to have immigration control, if you want to get the deficit down, if you want to build a stronger Britain that we can be proud of, there is only one option and that is to have a Conservative Government after the next election."

Farage: Wouldn't surprise me if were more defections

Ukip leader Nigel Farage has said it "wouldn't surprise me" if more MPs defected to his party following Mark Reckless' decision to leave the Conservatives.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage speaks following Mark Reckless' defection from the Tories. Credit: BBC/Andrew Marr Show

Farage told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, "There is a widespread feeling that the political leaderships of Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative are becoming so hopelessly out of touch with opinions in MPs' constituencies that it wouldn't surprise me if we saw more defections."

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Farage shoots down 'designer handbag tax'

Ukip leader Nigel Farage. Credit: PA

Ukip leader Nigel Farage has shot down proposals for the party to levy a "luxury goods tax" on items such as designer shoes and handbags.

Economic spokesman Patrick O'Flynn put forward the idea of a 25% VAT rate for top-end goods at the Ukip annual party conference in Doncaster.

But Mr Farage has moved to kill off the idea, saying it was no more than a "discussion point" that "isn't going to happen".

"I'm pretty certain that while I'm leader that will not be in our manifesto," he said in an interview with BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show to be broadcast today.

Mark Reckless' defection 'astonishing and disgusting'

The chairman of the Rochester and Strood Conservatives said he was "astonished and disgusted" by Mark Reckless' decision to defect to Ukip.

Mark Reckless with Ukip leader Nigel Farage. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

I am astonished and disgusted by Mark Reckless' decision - only 48 hours ago he proclaimed his support for the Conservatives and their plans for a referendum on Europe and he gave me assurances he wouldn’t defect.

He has misled the hardworking people of Rochester and Strood who voted for him. It is only the Conservatives who can deliver a referendum on Europe with a vote for UKIP being a vote for Ed Miliband.

– Andrew Mackness, Chairman of Rochester and Strood Conservatives
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