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Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay says he won't be derailed by continuing expenses investigation as PM offers endorsement

By Paul Francis

The South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay has said he is not concerned by the ongoing police investigation into expenses claims during the 2015 election.

The MP is expected to be formally readopted as the party's candidate for the forthcoming election despite the investigation continuing.

He reiterated that he had done nothing wrong during the 2015 campaign despite allegations that the party had failed to properly report expenditure and may have breached spending limits.

The moment Craig Mackinlay won the South Thanet seat

The moment Craig Mackinlay won the South Thanet seat

In an interview for KMTV’s Paul on Politics show, he shrugged off the suggestion that the inquiry would overshadow the Conservative campaign.

“I have done nothing wrong and acted honestly and properly throughout the campaign so no, I'm not concerned at all.”

The Prime Minister has backed Conservative MPs who are under investigation for allegedly breaking election expenses rules in 2015.

Speaking in the Commons, she said they can stand again as Tory candidates in the coming election.

“I stand by all the Conservative MPs who are in this House and who will be out there standing again campaigning, campaigning for a Conservative government that will give a brighter and better future for this country.”

Mr Mackinlay said he was also unperturbed by the prospect of a renewed challenge in the constituency from Nigel Farage.

The former Ukip leader has yet to decide whether to stand again in South Thanet, saying he is mulling over the idea.

Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage

Mr Mackinlay said: “We don't know whether he's going to stand again. I can't see why he should but if he does - well, I beat him last time.”

“The USP of Ukip has been delivered. We are on our way out of the EU. I think they should be very proud of what they have achieved and it is time for many of their voters to come home whether that is to the Labour party or to the Conservative Party.”

Mr Mackinlay saw off Mr Farage in an acrimonious campaign and the potential for a rematch would put Kent centre-stage in the election battle.

However, Mr Farage said: “I have to weigh up where I would best be in having an impact on Brexit  and perhaps warning the public if it is not going in the right direction. Am I better off in Strasbourg  or better off trying to get to Westminster?”

In an interview on the Today show on Radio 4, he said: “I think I would win.  I lost in circumstances that perhaps were not entirely fair  but we will let the Crown Prosecution Service decide that. The SNP  fear factor had a big impact in 2015.  I will make my mind up over the next couple of days  but whatever I decide  I will work fully and support Paul Nuttall  in all he does.”

The deadline for candidates to be nominated for the poll on June 8 is May 11.

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