Rochester and Strood by-election: Jumping ship? The Tory MPs most likely to join Reckless in defecting to Ukip

As Mark Reckless says two Conservative politicians are watching today's result with interest, Andrew Grice runs through the list of those most likely to go over to Farage's side

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Indy Politics

With the Rochester and Strood by-election now underway, the Ukip candidate and Tory defector Mark Reckless has suggested there are at least two more Conservative MPs ready to follow his lead and jump ship to Nigel Farage's party.

Mr Reckless said he had spoken to two former colleagues who were "waiting to see what the result is before making any decisions".

Ukip have been ranked as favourites to win the seat, encouraging speculation as to which two Tory MPs Mr Reckless might mean.

Based on their recent activities and more-right-than-centre leanings, these are the Conservatives who are most likely to not be that way for much longer.

Peter Bone

MP for Wellingborough. Majority 11,787.  Independent-minded backbencher who detests the Coalition. Argues that Ukip is a “good thing for British politics” because it is “pushing” the debates about Europe and immigration.

Mark Pritchard

Former secretary of influential Tory 1992 Committee.  MP for The Wrekin. Majority 9,450.  Photographed with Nigel Farage at an event recently but said it was just a “friendly photo.”

Philip Hollobone

MP for Kettering.  Majority 9, 904.   Has said: 2013: “I think we could end up with a situation where in selected seats, where the Conservative candidate or MP  is in favour of leaving the EU, they [Ukip] would endorse him in those seats."

John Baron

Opponent of UK involvement in foreign wars. MP for Basildon and Billericay. Majority 12,338. Ukip is trying to tempt him to contest next door seat of Basildon South and Thurrock East but he insists he is staying put.

Chris Kelly

Won Dudley  South with majority of 3,856 in 2010 but is standing down next May.  Has been wooed by Ukip, which is targeting his seat, but insists he will not join Nigel Farage’s party. Has declined to say why he is leaving Parliament.

Martin Vickers

MP for Cleethorpes.  Majority 4,298.  Has revealed that Nigel Farage’s party offered not to stand against him at next May’s general election in return for free run in neighbouring Labour-held Great Grimsby.

David Nuttall

MP for Bury North. Majority 2,243.  Outspoken right-winger. Has said it would be “beneficial” if the Tories and Ukip could agree a “common programme” in order to unite the right in British politics.