Tory row over UKIP defector

The decision by Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies to allow UKIP defector Mark Reckless into the Tory Assembly group has triggered a major row in the party.

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  1. Nick Powell

Fresh speculation about Tory leader's future

A file picture of Theresa May's Joint Chief of Staff Nick Timothy Credit: PA

Reports that Conservative Assembly Group staff were sent home early today led to speculation that Welsh leader Andrew RT Davies was meeting Theresa May's Joint Chief of Staff Nick Timothy. That's denied by official Welsh Conservative sources.

MPs who've criticised Mr Davies' decision to allow UKIP defector Mark Reckless into the Tory Group have been confident that they have the support of Downing Street. ITV News understands that at least one AM is preparing to mount a leadership challenge next week. Mr Davies appeared unconcerned tonight.


UKIP's Mark Reckless rumoured to be quitting party

There's speculation tonight that a leading UKIP Assembly Member is about to quit the party.

Mark Reckless is a former Conservative MP. Credit: PA, Anna Gowthorpe

Mark Reckless, who is a former Conservative MP, is rumoured to have held talks with Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies which could see him sitting as an independent but voting with the Tories in the Senedd.

Mr Reckless hasn't responded to calls today and a UKIP spokesperson refused to comment.

A Welsh Conservative spokesperson dismissed the claim as 'all speculation and unsubstantiated' and added that there are 'no changes to the group.'

However other sources simply say that Mr Reckless hasn't been accepted as a member, leaving open the possibility that he could take the Tory whip but sit as an Independent AM.

There's speculation that his attempt to join the Welsh Conservatives was blocked by the party's UK leadership.

Mr Reckless is a close ally of the MP Douglas Carswell who recently quote UKIP to become an Independent MP.

The party's former leader Nigel Farage has told the Telegraph:

'I will be very sad to see the back of him. Unlike Mr Carswell I have always thought him an honourable person. I'm sure the pressure on him has been enormous over the last week.'

UKIP's former leader in Wales, Nathan Gill, also sits as an independent AM although he remains a UKIP MEP.

The party won seven seats in the Assembly in 2016.

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