Fraser Nelson Fraser Nelson

Is London’s Richard Barnes the final Ukip defector?

The gossip here in Birmingham is that there is a third defector from the Tories to Ukip, that David Cameron knows his name and isn’t too bothered. But if that person is Richard Barnes, a former deputy Mayor of London who has announced his defection today, you can see why the PM is quite chillaxed about it. He’s someone with no national profile who was expelled from the Party earlier for this year for standing as an Independent against the Conservative Party’s approved candidate. He is also defecting in part of the country where Ukip support is at its lowest. Barnes has recited the now-familiar list of reasons for defecting to the Evening Standard. The former London Assembly member for Ealing and Hillingdon said:

‘There seems to be a detachment from ordinary people’s lives in the Westminster Village… The parties just don’t seem to relate and talk the language of normal people.

‘Do we really believe they can create a new settlement by 2017, with the agreement of all the member states. It’s just unrealistic. There has to be more clarity and it’s not there at the moment… Our borders are massively porous. Immigration is a good idea, but it has to bring a benefit to our economic, social and cultural life. It cannot be to take advantage of the NHS or to exploit the benefits system. At the moment it’s a mess. We don’t count people in, or count them out. That would be a good place to start.’

The Tories will not worry too much about this: Ukip isn’t really a threat in London. Today’s YouGov poll shows the party on 16 per cent nationally (twice that of the LibDems) but their lowest levels of support are Scotland (4 per cent) and London (13 per cent) – compared to 18 per cent in the rest of South England.

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