Carswellite Councillor Defects to Tories: ‘I’ve Always Been Conservative’

Chris Wood

A senior UK Independence Party (UKIP) councillor aligned with Douglas Carswell’s faction of the party has announced his defection to the Conservative Party, stating “[I] always have been a conservative”.

Cllr Chris Wood, leader of the UKIP group on Hampshire County Council and a councillor on Fareham Borough Council announced his defection via Twitter early on Tuesday morning. In a statement released on the social media site he claimed that UKIP was redundant following the vote to leave the European Union.

He went on to praise the Conservative Party warmly, saying “Many of my residents will recognise that I am and always have been a conservative.

He added: “The Conservative Party are investing hugely in our local infrastructure… while nationally under Theresa May the party will deliver Brexit … I wholeheartedly support Theresa May’s leadership”.

Wood’s vocal support for higher council spending brought him into conflict with Breitbart London editor in chief and UKIP leadership hopeful Raheem Kassam, who slammed him for opposing Conservative cuts to the budget.

Kassam has made party unity the centerpiece of his leadership bid, urging disloyal members to get out and allow the party to go forward as one. On Thursday he told Channel 4 News: “This is an open call to all UKippers out there: either get together or get lost.”

Meanwhile Wood has been making no secret of his support for the Conservative Prime Minister, praising her recent conference speech Tweeting “It’s been some time since I’ve watched a Conservative Party Leader’s conference speech and agreed with every word that they have said.”

In response a fellow UKIP member called him a “purple Tory”; in other words a Conservative infiltrator into the party.

Wood has since been quoted by a BBC journalist on Twitter as saying of Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May, she “looks like Thatcher, talks like Churchill.”

His defection, and his actions while still within the party, will raise concerns that it is being torn apart by a group of Conservative sympathisers loyal to UKIP’s only MP Douglas Carswell, who has himself admitted infiltrating the party to undermine Nigel Farage, the party’s charismatic leader.

Wood has defended both Carswell and key ally Suzanne Evans on a number of occasions, in March appearing on the Daily Politics to call for Evan’s suspension from the party to be rescinded.

More recently he has boasted and laughed about causing arguments within the party by telling the BBC that the Farage-backed pro-Brexit campaign was phoning UKIP members in order to canvass potential support for a brand new party.

Following news of Wood’s The Leader of Fareham Borough Council, Sean Woodward, told the BBC he was “delighted” to welcome Wood back to the Conservative Party.

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