Isabel Hardman Isabel Hardman

Tories accuse Reckless of lying

The Conservatives have decided that the best way to respond to Mark Reckless’s defection to Ukip is to accuse him of lying. On first glance, this may seem like a slightly crude strategy: of course the man was going to lie until the point of his defection, rather than say ‘yes, I am thinking of going over, but don’t mention it to anyone if you can’. But the reason this works is that it rather undermines Reckless’s claim to be a man of principle, or at least, the Tories clearly hope it will.

He registered and paid for this Tory party conference, and told his whip three days before the vote on air strikes on Isis in Iraq that he would support the government’s motion. He was one of the first to reply to his whip, and the message he sent is below:

‘Thanks for your message. I would be happy to support UK action with IS in Iraq e.g. air strikes.’

He then voted against the government.

His colleague Mark Pritchard is also unimpressed that in his briefing with journalists after his defection, Reckless claimed that he had won the vote on the EU Budget, when the pair had worked together to engineer the rebellion. Pritchard also confronted Reckless in the tearoom when Parliament returned from recess and demanded to know whether he was planning to defect. Reckless told him he wasn’t, and Pritchard is accusing him of lying. He says: ‘I would say that Douglas Carswell has been dishonourable with a small d, but Mark Reckless was a capital D.’

The Conservatives are bruised by the lies the MP told them, but as James says, they also think they’ve got a chance of beating him in the by-election. It seems assaults on his character will form a key part of that campaign.

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