Douglas Carswell: Nigel Farage warns more Tories could defect to Ukip over Cameron's 'open-door immigration'

Ukip leader says success in Clacton could see 'more follow' Carswell's example

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Nigel Farage has predicted other Tory and Labour MPs could defect to Ukip over the impact of “open-door immigration” should Douglas Carswell win the Clacton by-election.

Mr Farage is claiming the forthcoming election will be his party’s “high noon” after Mr Carswell resigned from the Conservative party and announced plans to stand under Ukip’s banner.

His unexpected decision stunned Westminister and sparked intense speculation about further defections from the Conservative ranks. Estimates have ranged from one and up to eight MPs who have held talks with the Eurosceptics.

Mr Carswell, who had a majority of 12,068 at the last election, is the odds-on favourite to retain his seat.

Writing in The Independent, the Ukip leader said there is a growing number of Conservative and Labour back benchers who back the party’s aims, "who not only support Ukip fully in what they are trying to achieve but view the impact of open-door immigration and its effects on the lives of ordinary people with increasing urgency”.

“Indeed this week’s immigration figures and the ever deeper troubles of the eurozone clearly illustrate the point," said Mr Farage.

"So if Douglas Carswell wins this by-election and those backbench MPs with a favourable view of Ukip believe they are more likely to win their seats as Ukip than as Tory or Labour, then more will follow.

"The Clacton by-election is of huge significance not just to the future of Ukip but to the whole of British politics. It will indeed be our high noon."

Official figures released this week showed net migration jumped to 243,000 in the year to March, a rise of 68,000 driven mainly by larger numbers of EU nationals coming to the UK.

The figures undermined the Prime Minister’s pledge to reduce net migration to below 100,000.

Mr Cameron, who described Mr Carswell’s announcement as “deeply regrettable”, said only the Conservatives could deliver an in/out referendum on the EU. "That is what until very recently Douglas Carswell himself was saying,” the Prime Minister added.


Meanwhile, Roger Lord, the man previously selected as the Ukip candidate for the Clacton seat, has vowed to fight Mr Carswell for the nomination.

Asked whether he would fight for the nomination, he told BBC's Radio 4 Today programme: "Absolutely. I have been assured I will get a fair hearing."