Local election skirmishes took a bizarre twist today when the father of a Tory MP was announced as a Ukip candidate, declared he was quitting and changed his mind again in quick succession.
Sushil Patel, whose daughter Priti is a prominent member of the 2010 Conservative intake, is standing in the Bushey South division of the Hertfordshire County Council poll on Thursday.
The apparent political coup was hailed by Ukip leader Nigel Farage during a campaign visit to South Shields this afternoon - and quickly caused a stir on Twitter.
As Westminster's attention zeroed in on the family divisions, Mr Patel was engaged in a series of pre-arranged media interviews at his home to discuss his candidacy.
A Ukip spokesman said that after receiving a number of phone calls, their new star recruit announced to one newspaper that he had decided not to stand for the party after all.
As reports of the dramatic U-turn began to swirl, Ukip officials told Mr Patel that it was too late for him to withdraw from the election or amend the ballot paper.
They said they after explaining that should he win the seat he would either have to quit and force a by-election, serve as an independent or switch to another party, he changed tack again.
Ukip released a statement insisting that Mr Patel remained its candidate and adding that he was "convalescing from a recent serious operation and is unable to conduct any further interviews".
It quoted the MP's father as saying: "I am proud of being a Ukip candidate and very proud of the achievements of my daughter who represents the people of Witham in an exemplary fashion.
"My views are my own and I am astonished that there has been quite so much interest in my candidacy".
On Thursday night, Priti Patel told the Daily Telegraph she had not pressured her father to stand down as a Ukip candidate.
She said: “No matter what, whatever the outcome of this, he is still my Dad and I still love him. Nothing will change that, not even Ukip.”Suggest a correction