Oliver Duff

i Editor's Letter: Douglas Carswell's defection

The former backbencher has hastened the Conservative party clash

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Defection: live! I have never imagined that David Cameron suffers from nightmares – unlike some of his  predecessors. But when a top Conservative backbencher shocked Westminster yesterday morning, resigning from the party in a televised challenge to the Prime  Minister, Downing Street aides watched with mounting horror.

Short-term, Douglas Carswell has hurt David Cameron, dive-bombed his autumn strategy (a key time to reveal new policies, especially so soon before a general election) and given Nigel Farage and Ukip a shot in  the arm. Wearing purple, Mr Carswell is the favourite to win the  surprise by-election in Clacton.

More fundamentally, though, he has hastened the Conservative Party clash that Mr Cameron had wanted to dodge til 2017: Europe. The whips have their work cut out in the days ahead. Mr Cameron has never been a wildly popular leader within his party, but his colleagues do recognise his worth. Further defections may be delayed, but the debate, one that Mr Cameron can little afford as he chases a majority in May, has begun.

***

While we all know that the print industry has faced challenges, its enduring, enormous popularity is evidenced by the 8 million people who go out every morning and buy  a national newspaper – not to mention Britain’s locals, regionals and vast array of magazines. Thanks to you, i is the one national daily paper whose print readership has grown this year. There are 9 per cent more of you than there were in 2013 – or another 49,000 readers, according to the National Readership  Survey. You now total 590,000, a record. Thank you very much for this support. Not something, I can assure you, that we take for granted. Any thoughts on the paper, critical or complimentary, please email  i@independent.co.uk.

Twitter: @olyduff

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