Rochester by-election: Bad news for Ukip supporters? Farage admits no more Tories set to defect

“I'd love it. But I don't think people will defect immediately."

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Indy Politics

No more Tory MPs will defect to Ukip in the wake of yesterday’s Rochester by-election victory, Nigel Farage has admitted.

Speculation had been high that another Conservative MP was waiting in the wings to leave the party and join Ukip.

But at a press conference today Mr Farage conceded that he was no longer anticipating any further defections before Christmas.

“I would love a defector this afternoon and a by-election before Christmas,” he said.

“I'd love it. But I don't think people will defect immediately. I think they will sit and chew their teeth and have a think about things. I think defections are more likely after Christmas.”

Mr Farage said Ukip were particularly looking to approach Tory MPs in Labour marginal seats outside London who were vulnerable at the next election.

”Without naming any names, if you are a Conservative MP sitting on a small majority against the Labour party – and the further north of London you go, the bigger problem this becomes – you know you’ve lost next year,” he said.

“The Conservative party is dying, literally dying, in the urban north in the way it has in Scotland. [There is] a list of five Tory MPs who’ve got no chance of winning on a blue rosette but who might have a chance on a purple rosette, so let’s see what happens.” These MPs are understood to include Nigel Mills in Amber Valley who has the 40th most “Ukip-friendly” of 650 seats in the UK.

It is over 98 per cent white and nearly a third of voters have no educational qualifications. According to a poll by Lord Ashcroft, Ukip will win the seat next year.

Martin Vickers in Cleethorpes is another MP under pressure from Nigel Farage’s party, which won 41 per cent of the vote in the last EU elections.

David Nuttall from Bury also faces a significant threat from Ukip. As the head of the parliamentary “Better Off Out” group, which campaigns against UK membership of the EU, he is also an obvious target.

Mr Farage said Ukip now had a target seat committee looking at dozens of constituencies to put resources into next May: ”We've set up a target seat committee with Douglas Carswell and Paul Sykes running it.

"These are the guys who are going to push this, run this and drive this. Our intention is to roll out this kind of campaign in all of those target seats. We've made a few decision on which seats to target already. Can we do this in a few dozen seats? I think we can," he said.

Mr Farage also accused the Tories of attempting to “psychologically break” Mark Reckless in the run-up to last nights Rochester by-election.

“I thought some of the behaviour was disgusting. Just the whole approach, the intimidatory approach to Mark, the attempts psychologically to break him, all the things we saw going on.

“They spent vast sums of money on TV adverts, radio adverts being negative about the other candidate and if you saw some of the online stuff that was done in that style. If you read the leaflets that were put out it was exactly in that style and I think it’s really good that it hasn’t worked. I would hate to see our politics of going down that route of being wholly negative.

“I think that British people are actually repelled by this stuff.”