Britain’s only UKIP lawmaker opts for independence – by quitting the party
The anti-EU, anti-immigration UK Independence Party (UKIP) will no longer be represented in the British parliament after its only MP announced on Saturday he was quitting to become an independent lawmaker.
Douglas Carswell said his membership was no longer necessary following last year’s referendum vote to leave the EU, saying: “I will leave UKIP amicably, cheerfully and in the knowledge that we won.”
The announcement comes just days before Prime Minister Theresa May is due to formally notify the European Union of Britain’s intention to leave the bloc, starting a two-year countdown to Brexit.
Carswell’s ties had long been strained with the rest of the party, in particular its founder Nigel Farage, who has repeatedly tried and failed to win election to the 650-seat House of Commons.
Farage, one of UKIP’s 20 members of the European Parliament, last month publicly asked Carswell to leave the party, saying he “actively and transparently seeks to damage us”.
But his resignation is a blow after months of infighting in the party, which is struggling to find a winning platform beyond its core message of euroscepticism and opposition to mass immigration.
Carswell was first elected to parliament in 2005 as a member of May’s Conservative party, but resigned in 2014 to stand again as a member of UKIP in the southeastern English seat of Clacton.
“Like many of you, I switched to UKIP because I desperately wanted us to leave the EU.” he wrote in a blog posting on Saturday, entitled “Job Done”.
“Now we can be certain that that is going to happen, I have decided that I will be leaving UKIP.
“I will not be switching parties, nor crossing the floor to the Conservatives, so do not need to call a by-election, as I did when switching from the Conservatives to UKIP.
“I will simply be the member of parliament for Clacton, sitting as an independent.”
He paid tribute to UKIP’s efforts, saying that despite their failure to win more MPs, “in a way we are the most successful political party in Britain ever”.
“We have achieved what we were established to do – and in doing so we have changed the course of our country’s history for the better,” he said. “Make no mistake; we would not be leaving the EU if it was not for UKIP, and for those remarkable people who founded, supported and sustained our party over that period.”