The former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi has been praised by a senior Ukip figure for keeping a grip on illegal immigration to Europe.
Mark Reckless, its candidate in the Rochester and Strood by-election, courted controversy as he referred to the growing numbers of migrants trying to make the dangerous voyage across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. Italian patrols that have rescued thousands of Africans from drowning have been scrapped.
Mr Reckless, a former Tory MP who defected to Ukip, said: “Whatever people say about Gaddafi, one thing is he didn’t allow those boats to come across.
“He had an agreement with Italy that stopped it. Since he’s gone we have no idea what’s going on in Libya, it’s too dangerous for anyone to go there.”
He denounced David Cameron for allowing Britain to join the operation to topple Gaddafi as it had led to “bad guys” being replaced by “even worse guys” in Libya.
“We bombed them, that’s what we did. That’s how this Government helped Libya,” Mr Reckless said.
“It got rid of somebody, albeit an Arab nationalist dictator, who actually gave a level of stability to the area.”
Who's next? Conservative MPs who could defect to Ukip
Who's next? Conservative MPs who could defect to Ukip
1/8 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
2/8 Mark Pritchard
Former secretary of the 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"
3/8 Philip Hollobone
MP for Kettering. Majority 9, 904. He said in 2013: “So many constituencies are now marginal because Ukip is now providing a fourth dynamic into what has previously been a three-party dynamic. I think we could end up with a situation where in selected seats, where the Conservative candidate or member of Parliament is in favour of leaving the EU, they would endorse him in those seats"
4/8 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
5/8 Nadine Dorries
MP for Mid Bedfordshire. Majority 15,152. Lost Tory whip after appearing on ITV’s “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here,” but later reinstated. Has said her constituents some constituents feel a "huge amount of empathy with Ukip". Hinted at standing on a joint ticket but denied she will defect
6/8 Jacob Rees-Mogg
MP for Somerset North East. Majority 4,914. Independent-minded like Douglas Carswell. Has called for an electoral pact between Tories and Ukip. “There are many members of Ukip who are very close to the Conservative Party and there are many Conservatives to whom Ukip looks favourably,” he said in May
7/8 Gordon Henderson
MP for Sittingbourne and Sheppey. Majority 12,383. Wants Britain to leave the EU and admits he has been “sounded out” by Ukip. But insists the party has “no principles,” saying: “I’d sooner lose than be a turncoat”
8/8 Peter Bone
MP for Wellingborough. Majority 11,787. Independent-minded backbencher who hates the Coalition. Has said: “Somehow the Conservatives and Ukip have got to work together and have some sort of [electoral] pact or accord”
Mr Reckless is favourite to win the Rochester contest on 20 November after polls put him ahead of his former party in the Kent constituency. The Conservatives have mounted a huge effort to avoid a second by-election defeat following last month’s loss of Clacton to Ukip.
Meanwhile, Mr Cameron has refused to rule out a deal with Nigel Farage if he fails to secure an overall majority at next year’s election.
Challenged over whether he could look to Ukip in a hung parliament, he dodged the question, simply replying that he would “do the right thing for Britain”.
The Prime Minister said the next election was absolutely wide open and could easily result in a Conservative-only Government.
“That’s what I’m campaigning for and nothing’s going to distract me between now and then. Until that election is over, you won’t get me speculating on what would happen if I fall short,” he told BBC Radio Kent.
“At the last election, we didn’t have an overall majority; we fell short, and I thought the right thing to do was to give Britain strong and stable Government to get the deficit down, turn the economy round, get the country back to work.”
Mr Farage has previously suggested he would support a minority Conservative government on a “supply and confidence” basis in return for the Tories’ promised referendum on EU membership being brought forward from 2017 to 2015.
And speaking at a Ukip hustings in Rochester, Mr Farage claimed Britain had become the “cheap labour economy of the European Union” as a result of “uncontrolled” levels of migration.
He said: “What we have got is a massive oversupply in the labour market which has driven down wages. We have literally made this country now the cheap labour economy of the European Union."
An international lawyer specialising in immigration said his comments carried “worrying” overtones.
Sarosh Zaiwalla said: “Although it’s tempting to some to acquiesce to popular opinion and focus only on the negative aspects of international migration, we need to remember that some migrants have brought both financial and economic gain to the UK.”Reuse content