Mark Reckless on course for Ukip win in Rochester

Tory defector Mark Reckless is on course to win back his Commons seat for Ukip in the upcoming by-election in Rochester and Strood, according to a new opinion poll.

The survey by Survation for the Mail on Sunday has Ukip nine points ahead of the Conservatives in the constituency.

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Party conference overshadowed by internal problems

The difficult start to the Tory conference has led some observers to compare it to the dying days of John Major's ill-fated government in the mid-1990s.

The resignation of minister Brooks Newmark after a sting by a Sunday newspaper, coupled with the defection of Mark Reckless to Ukip, have meant new policies such as reducing the welfare cap have been largely overshadowed.

ITV News Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship reports from Birmingham.

Tories find Reckless defection hard to swallow

Tories gathering in Birmingham have reacted angrily to the defection of Mark Reckless to Ukip.

Party chairman Grant Shapps said Mr Reckless had "let down" the party and "repeatedly lied to his constituents".

One activist told ITV News the Rochester and Stroud MP had "betrayed" the party by walking away.

ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen reports.

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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.

Shapps: Defecting MP 'has abused' Tories' trust

Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps told the party conference defecting Mark Reckless has "abused" their trust.

"Today your trust has been abused, you have been cheated, but worse, the people of Rochester and have been cast aside," Shapps said.

Farage: Some Labour backbenchers are 'dismayed'

Nigel Farage suggested there might be Labour Party members who could defect to Ukip.

"There are people sitting on the Labour backbenches [who are] dismayed, absolutely dismayed, that Ed Miliband doesn't appear to want to do anything to help working people," Farage said.

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."

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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."

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.

Farage hailed as 'the world's greatest leader'

Colourful and outspoken Ukip member Winston McKenzie has lauded Nigel Farage as 'the world's greatest leader'.

Speaking as Farage introduced new member Mark Reckless to some of the party faithful, McKenzie could not hide his excitement and lavished praise on Mr Farage.

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