Ukip defector says Tory firing was ‘pre-emptive’

Mike Whitehead said Ukip stood up for local issues. Picture: PA

Mike Whitehead said Ukip stood up for local issues. Picture: PA

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A FORMER Conservative parliamentary candidate now standing for Ukip in the general election has claimed he was fired in a “pre-emptive strike” because the Tories knew he planned to leave.

Ukip announced yesterday that Mike Whitehead had defected but the Conservatives said he was sacked last week as the candidate for the Hull West and Hessle constituency.

Nigel Farage described the news as “another hammer blow to Tory pretensions in the north of England” but a Conservative Party spokesman dismissed Ukip’s announcement as “cynical, misleading and utterly calculating to try and score political points”.

He added: “This man is not our candidate for Hull West and Hessle. He was sacked last week.

“He refused to support the local Conservative council candidate and so we wrote to him last week to say that his position was untenable and he could not stand for us at the general election.

“We were already selecting a new candidate for this constituency.

“This is typical Ukip – cynical, misleading and utterly calculating to try and score political points.”

Mr Whitehead, a councillor on East Riding Council in Yorkshire, has now admitted he was informed on Wednesday his candidacy would be removed if he did not stand aside from his intention to run in the local elections.

He said: “The Conservative Party took a pre-emptive strike because they knew it was coming. I got an e-mail on Wednesday evening to say that if I did not stand aside from my intentions to stand in the local elections, they would remove my candidacy in West Hull and Hessle.”

Mr Whitehead also told the broadcaster the Tory party knew he was outside the Conservative group on the local council when he was selected as the parliamentary candidate in August of last year.

He said: “It’s a bit odd, but I believe the reason they did that is because they knew I was standing up against the Tory group that was off side with the Conservative Party itself.”

On why he had decided to join Ukip, he added: “Ukip are the party that stand up for local issues and allow people to stand up for their beliefs and principles … it wasn’t a major change for me to go.

“It has been a major shock they (the party) have decided to allow the group to continue in the way they have been doing.”

Earlier, Mr Whitehead, who has been in a long-running row with the Tory group on his council, said he was “disgusted” with their behaviour and the “wilful refusal” of the Conservative Party to intervene at a national level.

He said he had become increasingly worried since 2011 when seven Conservative councillors from Haltemprice and Howden resigned, citing bullying and intimidation.

Mr Whitehead, who was a member for the Conservatives for five years, insisted the “secretive” council needed to be “opened up” and made more transparent.

Hull West and Hessle is safe Labour territory – former home secretary Alan Johnson is defending a 5,700 majority from the 2010 general election when the Conservatives finished third.

Labour shadow cabinet minister Jon Trickett called the events “another huge blow for David Cameron’s authority”.

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