Published: 12:00, 29 September 2014
MP Gordon Henderson has once again dismissed rumours he is to defect to UKIP.
The Tory was speaking after fellow Conservative Mark Reckless made a high-profile switch to Nigel Farage’s party at the weekend.
The Rochester and Strood MP’s swap led to speculation Mr Henderson would be the third member of the parliamentary party to join the anti-Euros in the space of a month, having been “sounded-out” last month.
But he insisted he was staying put, saying: “When people make an offer, out of courtesy you consider it.
“However, it didn’t take me long to decide I’d struggle to be in a party which had no principles.
“Since they wanted me to join them, it does beg the question why they would oppose me at the next election?”
Mr Henderson refuted the idea his decision to stay was influenced by sources within the Tory ranks.
“No one puts pressure on me - I’m too long in the tooth,” he said.
Mr Reckless said his move to UKIP was based on a need for action on a European referendum, tax and immigration.
A claim rejected by Mr Henderson, who said the change of allegiance was inspired by opportunity rather than principle.
He said: “I’ve known Mark for a long time so I fail to see the logic of what he’s doing.
“My own view is, changing from party to party is about manoeuvring, improving your chances of being elected. I’d sooner lose than be a turncoat.”
Former Conservative county councillor Keith Ferrin, who lost his Swale West seat in last year’s elections, said he wasn’t perturbed at seeing Mr Reckless jump ship.
“Frankly, he’s voted against the government so often they are hardly likely to worry about losing his support,” he said.
“Strangely enough, I’m not at all sorry about him joining UKIP, actually, I’m rather glad.”
“Strangely enough, I’m not at all sorry about him (Reckless) joining UKIP, actually, I’m rather glad" - Cllr Keith Ferrin
As someone who doesn’t get involved in Commons “chit-chat”, Mr Henderson said he didn’t know if there will be further changes of allegiance by Tory MPs.
“I’d be most surprised in any other Kent MPs do it,“ he said.
The fallout from Mr Reckless’s defection will doubtless be the hot topic of conversation at this week’s Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham.
Mr Henderson, who seldom attends the annual gathering, said he wouldn’t be journeying to the midlands, preferring instead to “work on behalf of my constituents”.
“Besides,” he said, “where would you rather be, Sittingbourne, Sheppey...or Birmingham?”
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