Richard Barnes, former Conservative Deputy Mayor of London, defects to Ukip

The move comes after two MPs moved to the Eurosceptic party

Andrew Grice,Lizzie Dearden
Tuesday 30 September 2014 17:11
Richard Barnes speaking Deputy Mayor of London in 2009
Richard Barnes speaking Deputy Mayor of London in 2009

The former Conservative Deputy Mayor of London, Richard Barnes, has defected to Ukip.

Described as Boris Johnson’s one-time "right-hand man at City Hall", he announced he was leaving David Cameron's party on Tuesday, the Evening Standard reported.

He told the newspaper that the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems did not “speak the language of normal people”.

The move comes as a new blow to the Prime Minister following the defection of MPs Mark Reckless and Douglas Carswell.

Mr Barnes said he favoured Ukip policies on the EU, immigration, HS2 and Heathrow expansion.

“There seems to be a detachment from ordinary people’s lives in the Westminster Village," he told the Evening Standard.

“The parties just don’t seem to relate and talk the language of normal people.”

The politician, who is gay, also dismissed claims that Ukip is a homophobic party. Nigel Farage’s party has been linked to a series of scandals; in January a Ukip councillor said that severe flooding and storms could be blamed on the Government’s decision to legalise gay marriage.

He said: “I’ll stand my ground against any prat. They are in all the parties. I don’t think they become homophobic the moment they join Ukip.”

Nigel Farage had hinted that many Tory defections were to come after Douglas Carswell

Mr Barnes said he wanted the UK to pull out of the EU and return to a free trade agreement with the continent, claiming that the Prime Minister’s plan to renegotiate a better deal with Europe was “unrealistic”.

He served as Deputy Mayor between 2008 and 2012 but lost his seat for Ealing and Hillingdon the London Assembly elections that year to a previously unknown GP from Southall, who was running for Labour.

In September last year, naked photos showing a man's lower body in front of a mirror appeared on his Facebook page.

As the images spread, he blamed the incident on being "hacked", adding: "I’m a 65-year-old gay man on his own… It’s not the sort of thing I do. Do you really think I would be that f****** stupid after 30 years in politics?"

Mr Farage had hinted several times that more Tory defectors may join his party, saying there were "many other people out there that are making up that calculation now".

Last night Mr Johnson risked outraging Ukip supporters with a jibe that would-be defectors were people who might inflict “barely credible” injuries on themselves by “vacuum cleaner abuse”.

Boris Johnson launched an attack on Ukip supporters the night before the defection

He said: “If you do not handle your vacuum cleaner correctly, you may end up inhaling the hamster - the budgerigar through the bars of the cage.

"And I have read that there are some people - probably the type who are thinking of defecting to Ukip - who present themselves at A&E with barely credible injuries sustained through vacuum cleaner abuse."

Mr Cameron admitted he is fighting a war on two fronts against Labour and Ukip but warned the defectors they were making a Labour Government more likely, and saying goodbye to the in/out EU referendum he has promised in 2017.

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