Published: 20:26, 10 September 2018
| Updated: 20:27, 10 September 2018
A former Ukip stalwart who helped run Nigel Farage’s campaign to become the MP for South Thanet has been blocked from joining the Conservative party.
Martyn Heale, from Broadstairs, was a key Ukip figure in Thanet for several years and was Mr Farage’s agent in the 2015 general election.
He served as a county councillor between 2013 and 2017.
The South Thanet Conservative association received an application from Mr Heale last month.
But party officials expressed concern that his background could bring the party into disrepute.
A leaked email seen by Kent Online was sent to party members by the Conservative constituency association chairman Lynne Connolly.
It said that accepting Mr Heale's application could bring the party into disrepute because of his past membership of Ukip and the National Front.
Tory party chiefs have warned local associations to be vigilant over new members amid reports that many local associations are being targeted by former Ukip supporters concerned the country will end up with a soft Brexit deal.
"I feel that there is nothing more for Ukip to do because we achieved what we set out to do" - Martyn Heale
Before learning of the rejection of his application, Mr Heale told Kent Online he had applied because he felt Ukip had achieved its main aim.
Before joining the party, he had been a Conservative activist and supporter for 22 years.
“I feel that there is nothing more for Ukip to do because we achieved what we set out to do.”
He added that despite applying to join the Conservatives, he was “retired from politics” and had no desire to stand for election or be active in the association.
Of his work with Nigel Farage, he said the former leader had tapped into disenchantment among many people with the mainstream parties, who were ignoring their interests. “Working with him was one of the most interesting periods of my life,” he added.
He has previously described his brief membership of the National Front in the 1970s as something that he regretted.