ONE of the five Euro-MPs in the Dispatch district, who last year announced he was quitting, has now shocked colleagues by defecting to another party.
Roger Helmer (pictured) has represented the East Midlands constituency, which includes Hucknall and Bulwell, as a Conservative since 1999.
He disclosed plans to stand down because he was “disillusioned” with Conservative policies over Europe.
He changed his mind and remained in his seat into the new year because the party refused to sanction the appointment of fellow Euro-sceptic Conservative Rupert Matthews as his successor. But now Mr Helmer (68) has decided to join the UK Independence Party (UKIP).
Mr Helmer said: “The fact is that UKIP represents the values and interests of East Midlands Conservatives much better than David Cameron’s Tory Party does.
“I believe I can do a better job representing those views and interests as a member of UKIP than I could as a Conservative. The European project is collapsing before our eyes, yet the three main parties remain wedded to the Brussels dream.”
Mr Matthews said: “I am shocked and disappointed at Mr Helmer’s decision to betray his public promises to the people of the East Midlands and his private promises to his colleagues.”
Hucknall’s Conservative MP, Mark Spencer, said he was saddened by Mr Helmer’s decision but criticised his party’s handling of the case.
Emma McClarkin, a Conservative Euro-MP colleague of Mr Helmer in the East Midlands, said: “I am disappointed by Roger’s actions. He has let down a lot of people, especially those who voted for the Conservative Party in the Euro elections.”