|Mark Reckless MP|
The announcement came as a surprise when Mark Reckless walked onto the stage at UKIP's party conference in Doncaster, announcing his change of allegiance and plans for a by-election. He blamed the direction of the Conservative Party leadership for his defection, saying it was “part of the problem that is holding our country back”.
Reckless was one of six Conservative MPs to rebel on yesterday's vote in the House of Commons on air strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq, and throughout his time in parliament has been a noted Eurosceptic rebel.
Compared to Clacton, Rochester and Strood is a little more competitive for the Labour Party, so it will remain to be seen if the subsequent by-election will go as well for UKIP as polls have been suggesting for the Clacton by-election, or whether the Conservatives or Labour may fare better here. In 2010 the constituency voted:
Mark Reckless (Con) - 23,604 (49.2%, +6.6%)
Teresa Murray (Lab) - 13,651 (28.5%, -13.1%)
Geoff Juby (LD) - 7,800 (16.3%, +3.9%)
Ron Sands (English Democrats) - 2,182 (4.5%, n/a)
Simon Marchant (Green) - 734 (1.5%, n/a)
There was no UKIP candidate, though the relatively high vote for the English Democrats could potentially be taken as a substitute marker for the Eurosceptic vote here in 2010.
Presumably polls for the constituency will be published soon and we will be able to see if they follow the pattern from Clacton.