Douglas Carswell: ‘I Joined UKIP to Stop Them Running the Brexit Campaign’

Douglas Carswell MP UKIP
Ian Forsyth/Getty

Just days after quitting UKIP, Douglas Carswell MP has confirmed the reason he left the Conservatives was “to make sure that UKIP didn’t run the referendum campaign”.

He also slammed UKIP members for expressing a “Britain’s-gone-to-the-dogs Eurosceptism” and implied former party leader Nigel Farage is a “shock Jock” that gets too much airtime, urging voters to be “more discerning as to who we listen to”.

“Leaving the European Union has consistently been the lone star around which everything has orbited,” he told the Evening Standard on Monday. During the referendum campaign, he supported the establishment Vote Leave group, rather than the Leave.EU group back by Mr. Farage and most of UKIP.

“I wanted Britain to leave the European Union. I correctly understood that in order to force David Cameron into giving us a referendum, it was necessary to join UKIP – to make sure the right people ran the right sort of campaign.

“It was essential to make sure that UKIP didn’t run the referendum campaign and there are obviously going to be people in UKIP who are going to be cross about that. But I’m not – we won the referendum,” he said.

During the interview, Mr. Carswell also attacked UKIP members like Mr. Farage who had reacted to the Westminster terror attack by criticising mass migration. What is “essential to being a shock jock is that you are shocking, so I think we might take with a pinch of salt some of the things that people say”, he said.

Responding to the claim that Mr. Farage is given too much airtime, he said it was “a contentious but very valid point”, adding:

“I hope that when people select someone to speak on an issue, they might think carefully who it is they’re inviting to come and comment.”

He also suggested that “perhaps with the new technology we should learn to all press our mute buttons. Maybe with the social media revolution, we need to be a little bit more discerning as to who we listen to. There’s a lot of noise out there.”

Mr. Carswell quit UKIP to sit as an independent last Saturday. Some in UKIP said he ‘jumped before he was pushed’ as he was due to be expelled from the party for allegedly blocking Mr. Farage from receiving a knighthood.

Speaking to the Evening Standard on 22 March, he mocked the prospect of Mr. Farage being honoured by referring to the former party leader as “Sir Nigel”.

Last October, a book claimed Carswell only joined the party as part of a plot concocted with Tory MEP Dan Hannan to “neutralise” Mr. Farage.

“Angry, nativist UKIP risked being so toxic that if it ran the referendum it would do to the Eurosceptic cause what kryptonite did to Superman,” Carswell told journalist Owen Bennett, saying: “That could not be allowed to happen.”

Mr. Hannan added: “Douglas felt he could hold his seat under pretty much any colours and prevent UKIP losing us the referendum with a negative campaign.”

Upon defecting from the Conservatives, Carswell resigned his seat in parliament and stood for re-election under his new party colours, establishing a new precedent for MPs crossing the floor.

This time, however, he claims there is no need to call a by-election.


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