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Former Johnson aide joins Ukip

The Tories suffered another defection embarrassment today when Boris Johnson's former right hand man at City Hall announced he is joining Ukip.

Former deputy mayor of London Richard Barnes accused the Conservatives and other main parties of failing to "speak the language of normal people".

"There seems to be a detachment from ordinary people's lives in the Westminster Village," Mr Barnes told the Evening Standard.

"The parties just don't seem to relate and talk the language of normal people."

Mr Barnes, who served as deputy mayor between 2008 and 2012, said he wanted the UK to exit the EU and return to a free trade agreement with the continent.

He also dismissed David Cameron's plan to renegotiate Britain's relationship with Europe as "unrealistic", and accused the Government of failing to address immigration concerns.

The news came as Mark Reckless was officially installed as Steward and Bailiff of the Three Hundreds of Chiltern - the traditional way of quitting the Commons.

Mr Reckless dramatically appeared on stage at the Ukip conference over the weekend to announce he was switching from the Tories and triggering a by-election.

Other Conservatives have also been forced to deny they are planning to join Nigel Farage's party.

Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard told BBC Shropshire his "beating heart is Conservative".

"I've been a member of the Conservative party for a very long time and I intend to stay in the Conservative party," he said. "Yes, I'm an arch-Eurosceptic, I've been involved in most if not all of the supposedly Eurosceptic moves in the parliamentary party over the past few years and that will remain the same.

"I want us to have a referendum on Europe, and I believe the only way that can be delivered is with a Conservative government. Labour won't, the LibDems certainly won't, and with the best will in the world I don't think even Nigel Farage on a good day will say there's going to be a Ukip government."

Mid Bedfordshire MP Nadine Dorries has also insisted she will not be the next to defect.

Mr Johnson is due to deliver his main speech to the Tory conference in Birmingham later.

In a cameo appearance at a rally last night, he urged the "the great conservative family" to unite to defeat Labour.

He also made an off-beat joke about Ukip defectors turning up at A&E with "barely credible injuries" inflicted through "vacuum cleaner abuse".

Referring to EU Commission plans to ban high-powered vacuum cleaners, Mr Johnson said: "If you do not handle your vacuum cleaner correctly, you may end up inhaling the hamster - the budgerigar through the bars of the cage.

"And I have read that there are some people - probably the type who are thinking of defecting to Ukip - who present themselves at A&E with barely credible injuries sustained through vacuum cleaner abuse."

Mr Barnes, London Assembly member for Ealing and Hillingdon from 2000 to 2012, was embroiled in controversy last year after naked selfies were posted on his Facebook account.

It was initially thought that his iPhone had uploaded the shots automatically, but the politician insisted he had fallen victim to hackers.


From Belfast Telegraph