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Zac Goldsmith today denied that he's set to defect to UKIP despite claims that up to eight Tory MPs were ready to folllow Douglas Carswell's lead.
The MP for Richmond Park told PoliticsHome: "I love UKIP's emphasis on direct democracy, Recall and so on, but they're hopeless on the environment".
John Redwood this morning dismissed claims in the Daily Mail that as many as eight of his colleagues have been in secret talks about quitting. He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the figure, partly based on those who had dinners with UKIP donor Stuart Wheeler, was 'a figment of UKIP's imagination' and they could 'dream on' if they thought more defections were likely.
Nigel Farage claimed yesterday that he could pull "more rabbits out of the hat" and last night UKIP MEP Patrick O'Flynn told Newsnight "there may well be other Conservative MPs in same position" as Mr Carswell.
The Independent lists Nadine Dorries, Philip Hollobone, David Nuttall, Peter Bone, Michael Fabricant as all potential defectors, but yesterday Jacob Rees-Mogg, Liam Fox, Mark Pritchard and Bernard Jenkin all distanced themselves from Carswell’s move. Mark Reckless, a close friend of the Clacton MP, told the Guardian that a Tory government was the best way to get an ‘independent Britain’.
Meanwhile, UKIP has insisted that its by-election rules allow general election candidate Roger Lord to be by-passed in favour of Mr Carswell.
The timing of the poll now rests with new Chief Whip Michael Gove. Meanwhile, new figures yesterday showed net migration had soared from 175,000 to 243,000 a year, well above the Tories' target to get it down to 'tens of thousands'.
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