An ex-Ukip leader has been selected to stand as the Conservative candidate for the Kent constituency of Thanet South in next year’s general election.
Craig Mackinlay has been chosen by the Conservative Party to replace Laura Sandys as the candidate for the election set to take place in May 2015.
Mackinlay, who temporarily led Ukip in 1997 before being replaced by Michael Holmes, said in June that there was a “distinct possibility” that he could stand as the Tory candidate for the seat.
In 2005, Farage finished fourth when he stood in the same constituency, and it is believed he is eyeing up the seat for next year's election.
A decision on which constituency Farage will contest is expected to be announced later this summer.
Ukip’s rising stars
Ukip’s rising stars
1/7 Suzanne Evans
A Tory defector who has only been in the party for a year. She was rapidly appointed national communities spokesman. A former BBC reporter who now runs a PR agency, she has won plaudits within the party for her confidence in front of the camera.
2/7 Steven Woolfe
A barrister from Manchester whose father was mixed-race and mother was white. He was invited to become financial services spokesman before he had even joined Ukip. Now an MEP, his ethnicity and northern upbringing are in strong contrast to the Ukip stereotype.
3/7 Margot Parker
A local businesswoman who impressed Ukip’s hierarchy with her spirited campaign in the Corby and East Northants by-election 18 months ago. She was elected as an MEP for the East Midlands last week. She has a no-nonsense style which party chiefs believe will be persuasive on the national stage.
4/7 Patrick O’Flynn
A former Daily Express journalist who became Ukip’s director of communications and was a strategist behind the Euro-elections campaign. An experienced performer on television who is close to Mr Farage. With his media background he could become a culture spokesman.
5/7 Amjid Bashir
A restaurateur of Pakistani lineage who is one three Ukip MEPs representing Yorkshire and the Humber and currently speaks for the party on small business. After his election he said: “Here I am... of Asian birth, of Asian parentage, Muslim, and I have been selected by this so-called racist party. It disproves that completely.”
6/7 Louise Bours
Until her combative appearance alongside Piers Morgan and Joey Barton on Question Time last Thursday, she was one of Ukip’s lesser-known faces. The new MEP for the north-west is a former actress whose full name is Louise van de Bours. Her northern credentials could come in handy in wooing Labour-leaning voters.
7/7 Paul Nuttall
Long serving activist from Merseyside who became Ukip’s chairman in 2008 and deputy leader two years later. He is a key weapon in the party’s attempts to broaden its appeal to working-class voters in the North of England.
Mackinlay began his political career in the early 1990s as part of Alan Sked’s Anti-Federalist League, the party that would later become the UK Independence Party.
After being chosen as the person to replace Sked, he lost a leadership vote to Michael Holmes in 1997 and was demoted to the role of Ukip’s Deputy Leader until 2000.
Remaining active in the party for another five years, in 2005 he decided to switch allegiances and join the Conservative Party where he has served as a Tory councillor in the Medway council ever since.
He was also chosen as the Conservative candidate for Kent’s first ever Police and Crime Commissioner Elections in November 2012.
Farage has refused to comment on the Conservative’s decision to put forward his former Ukip colleague for the seat.
Mr Mackinlay will be up against Will Scobie (Labour), Russ Timpson (Liberal Democrats) and Ian Driver (Green Party).