The UK Independence Party’s (UKIP) only Member of Parliament Douglas Carswell has told the Guardian newspaper that he would “cheerfully vote for a motion to allow a quota of refugees” and implied that he wasn’t keen to attend UKIP’s party conference next week, though he would anyway, stating “…I have to go now, don’t I? If I don’t turn up, I’ll be noticed.”
The MP’s interview comes just four days before UKIP’s annual conference kicks off in Doncaster, and just two days after the party leader Nigel Farage slammed the European Union for attempting to impose migrant quotas. While Mr Farage has supported Britain taking Syrian Christians, he has been vocal about opposing a new migrant quota, instead favouring the idea that Britain should take more Syrians as a part of usual level of intake.
But Mr Carswell said: “I think we can all agree they are escaping from war, and I would cheerfully vote for a motion to allow a quota of refugees. I think we could take more asylum seekers, who are a small proportion of the number of people who come to Britain, if we processed other migrants more effectively. I grew up in a country ruled by a brutal tyrant. I’m the first to recognise that people need asylum.”
The difference is hardly massive between the two, and Mr Carswell’s divergence of thought should come as no surprise – especially as UKIP is a party that doesn’t whip its members and officials, and indeed encourages freedom of thought and expression.
But the Clacton MP also seems increasingly unwilling to go to bat for the party leader. The Guardian reports:
But what does he think of Farage? Finally, the politician kicks in. “I have enormous admiration for Nigel’s sheer…” (a long pause) “… stamina. For nearly two decades, he has stood on his own, fighting elections, sometimes losing his deposit.” Hasn’t that now shaded into crazed egomania? Another pause. “I don’t agree. Great leaders often have a certain robustness. I was careful to look where I was leaping.” Was he disappointed that Farage didn’t, as promised, step down after the election? “You need to talk to Nigel about the, er, resigning thing. Ukip has got a very compelling leader. But we will be stronger and more successful because of the ideas behind him.”
Ask about attending UKIP conference this week, he reflected, “Ha! I gave up going to Conservative conference five years ago. But I have to go now, don’t I? If I don’t turn up, I’ll be noticed.”
Speaking of his own leadership ambitions, Mr Carswell recognised: “I’d be disastrous. I don’t have the patience.”
Intriguingly, when asked about leaving the Conservative Party, Mr Carswell admitted: “It was quite something to realise: I’m not really Conservative at all, or not in the sense that I want things to stay as they are. But I wasn’t prepared to sit around feeling bitter and twisted. There are so many people in this building who are bitter and twisted.”