A Tory MP has revealed today that he has been approached to join Ukip.
Sittingbourne and Sheppey’s Gordon Henderson says he received a telephone call on Monday from the rival party asking him whether he would like to “do the same as Douglas Carswell”.
Mr Carswell defected from the Conservatives to Nigel Farage’s party last Thursday, resigning as Clacton’s MP and triggering a by-election.
Top UKIP donor Stuart Wheeler told on Friday how he has courted several MPs over the possibility of them defecting.
Although Mr Henderson, who was elected in 2010 with a 12,383 majority, remained tight-lipped as to who called him, he said it was not the millionaire businessman.
He declined the offer, saying he is not a “political hack”.
He said: “I’m not interested in party political manoeuvring. I’m simply not in that game. I’m not someone who is going to change because of the political winds at the time.
“I am a Conservative because the Conservative Party reflects many of my core principles.
“I feel a huge sense of loyalty to all those people that voted for me at the last election and all those people who worked so hard for me for so many years. I would not want to betray the trust they put in me.
“I’ve always tried as a member of parliament to always put people before party. I just get on with it. I’m happy just representing my constituents. My priority is people, not politics.”
Richard Palmer, UKIP's prospective parliamentary candidate for Sittingbourne and Sheppey
He believes he is one of many MPs who have been targeted by Ukip because of their sympathetic views.
He added that he had supported anti-EU policies and campaigns long before Ukip existed.
Referring to Mr Carswell’s decision to switch sides, Mr Henderson said: “To be honest the one thing he did which I think was honourable was to step down.
“But there was already a Ukip candidate in place and I’m not sure it’s morally right to usurp someone else who has been selected.”
The approached to Mr Henderson comes a week after it was revealed Sittingbourne and Sheppey is one of 12 constituencies nationwide to be targeted as winnable by UKIP at next year’s poll.
However, the man chosen by the party to take on the 66-year-old says he is unsure about any approach being made.
Richard Palmer says after speaking with his colleagues he is unconvinced by Mr Henderson’s claims.
“I’m not interested in party political manoeuvring... I’m not someone who is going to change because of the political winds at the time" - Gordon Henderson MP
He said: “Unless Gordon wants to put his cards on the table and say who it is who contacted him, then he’s probably making it up.”
When asked how he would feel about his party going behind his back to appoint another candidate, he said: “If Ukip felt that Sittingbourne and Sheppey would benefit from it [standing down] then yes [I would].”
He added as far as he could tell, it was not Ukip’s policy to ask MPs to defect but rather to wait for them to express an interest.
A UKIP spokesman said he had heard “nothing of the sort” regarding an approach to Mr Henderson but stopped short of a denying it altogether.