POLITICS

Douglas Carswell Quits As An MP And Vows To Vote Conservative

He's announced he will vote Tory on June 8.

20/04/2017 12:32 BST | Updated 20/04/2017 13:29 BST
PA Wire/PA Images

Former Ukip MP Douglas Carswell is quitting Parliament as Brexit means “job done”.

The Clacton MP announced today he is not seeking reelection in the upcoming General Election as he wants to “move on to other things”.

He confirmed he would be voting for the Conservative Party in the June 8 election.

Writing on his website this afternoon, the former Tory MP - who defected to Ukip in 2014 before quitting the anti-EU party earlier this year - claimed Leave’s victory in the EU referendum means his political career has not ended “in failure”.

Carswell was due to face a challenge for his Clacton seat from former Ukip donor Arron Banks, who once described him as “borderline autistic with mental illness wrapped in.”

Writing today, Carswell described representing his Essex constituency since 2005 as “the highest honour” of his career.

He went on: “As I promised in my maiden speech, I have done everything possible to ensure we got, and won, a referendum to leave the European Union - even changing parties and triggering a by election to help nudge things along. Last summer, we won that referendum. Britain is going to become a sovereign country again.

“I have decided that I will not now be seeking re-election. I intend to vote Conservative on June 8th and will be offering my full support to whoever the Clacton Constituency Conservatives select as their candidate.

“It is sometimes said that all political careers end in failure. It doesn’t feel like that to me today. I have stood for Parliament five times, won four times, and helped win the referendum last June. Job done. I’m delighted.

“Having been an MP for about half my adult life, I believe that it is time for me to move on to other things. I look forward to being able to read newspapers without appearing in them.”

BEN STANSALL via Getty Images
Douglas Carswell and Nigel Farage eat a McFlurry while on the campaign trail in 2014

Carswell first stood as an MP in 2001, when he challenged Prime Minister Tony Blair in Sedgefield.

After working in the Conservative Research Unit under David Cameron, he was elected as MP for Harwich in Essex in 2005, and was reelected to the new seat of Clacton in 2010.

Carswell hit the headlines in 2014 when he defected to Ukip, and won a subsequent by-election under his new party colours - the first person to ever win a seat in Parliament for the anti-EU group.

However, the former Tory frequently clashed with Nigel Farage, and Carswell later admitted he only joined Ukip to try to “neutralise” the party leader ahead of the EU referendum.

He quit Ukip in March, but resisted calls to trigger a by-election by claiming that as he was not joining another party he did not need the permission of his electorate.

Former Ukip donor Arron Banks vowed to stand against Carswell in the General Election, despite admitting he knows “nothing” about Clacton.

Speaking to the BBC on Wednesday, Banks said: “I know nothing about Clacton at all… my plan is to go down, see what the issues are and start to campaign.”

He added: “We went there during the referendum and had a fantastic day out.

“I am standing come hell or high water… Clacton would be put on the map.”

Liberal Democrat’s Tom Brake described Carswell’s decision to quit “as yet another top Brexiteer leaving a sinking ship.”

He added: “After steering the country towards a disastrous hard Brexit, it seems leading Leave campaigners don’t want to be held accountable for what happens next.

“It also speaks volumes that Ukip’s first elected MP is throwing his weight behind Theresa May, who has adopted Ukip’s hard Brexit agenda to the letter.”