Ukip MP Mark Reckless left feeling 'sore' after Nigel Farage 'changed immigration policy'

A storm of controversy broke after Mr Reckless said EU migrants living in Britain could be forced to leave should the UK exit the EU

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Ukip defector Mark Reckless says he is “sore” at the way he emerged from the controversy surrounding the party’s immigration policy after Nigel Farage “changed it” on Wednesday.

The MP was heavily criticised for remarks he made earlier on Tuesday suggesting EU migrants could have to leave the UK after a “transitional period”, should Britain exit the EU.

Mr Farage later “clarified” his statement to explain that migrants already living in the EU would have the right to stay. The Ukip leader stressed: "To be clear - anybody who has legally come to Britain is entitled to stay in Britain."

Mr Reckless’s comments provoked a storm of contention and saw the ‘Beast of Bolsover’ Dennis Skinner take Ukip to task just moments after Mr Reckless was sworn into Parliament.

Speaking to The Times, Mr Reckless suggested Mr Farage had altered his stance on immigration after the controversy surrounding EU migrant policy broke.

He said: "Until Nigel changed it on Wednesday, the policy of the party was everyone can stay for the transitional period, no doubt about that, that there would then be a permanent arrangement which would be part of the EU negotiation."

“The policy changed on Wednesday and I'm a bit sore about how I came out of that, because I don’t actually think I said I was only talking about welcoming people of particular circumstances.

In an apparent U-turn, Mr Reckless claimed he had disagreed with the idea that EU migrants already living in the UK could have to leave.

"I've always thought we should allow people to stay permanently regardless, because that's the right thing to do by them and it's also the right thing for our party in terms of how we want to look to the country."

Mr Reckless had on Tuesday said EU migrants who had resided in the UK for long periods of time would be considered "sympathetically", but others could be told to leave after the transitional period.

His remarks, during an ITV debate in the constituency, were challenged by the Labour candidate, Naushabah Khan.

“Where would you stop, Mark? My family are migrants, are we going to say they need to go back as well?” she asked.