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Reckless defection caused outrage

Mark Reckless's defection to Ukip was met with such fury and outrage that the former Tory is said to have beefed up security at his home.

Within hours of making the announcement, timed with precision to cause maximum damage to his old party, ex-colleagues made clear their disgust and branded him a disloyal liar.

But the leap to Ukip brought to an end a career within the Tory camp that had often been fractious.

Over his relatively brief stint in Parliament, Mr Reckless had proved to be a persistent thorn in the side of the Tory leadership.

Called to the Bar in 2007, he read philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford, meeting future chancellor George Osborne in his first few days at Christ Church.

Elected for the first time in 2010, the bespectacled former solicitor - once described as looking like a country rector - soon gained a reputation as one of Westminster's most rebellious MPs.

His time in Parliament began ignominiously when he had to apologise after missing a Commons vote because he had had too much to drink in one of Westminster's bars - something he vowed would never happen again.

The married father of two kept that pledge and soon decided to go further still by giving up alcohol altogether.

"I apologised, said it wouldn't happen again, and it hasn't," he told the Sunday Times. "Indeed, I have not drunk at all for a year or two.

"I'm 43 now. I enjoyed myself at Oxford and working as a young graduate in London. But I don't drink and I find it easier to look after my children, sort of get up in the night and see them or get up early."

In 2012, he was back in the headlines when he was credited with masterminding the coalition's first Commons defeat, leading 53 Tory rebels to join with Labour to back a motion demanding a real terms cut in the European Union budget.

The vote came as a severe embarrassment to David Cameron on the eve of crucial talks in Brussels.

It underlined his reputation as a serial rebel, going back to early days of the coalition when he was one of just six Tory MPs to vote against the Government on tuition fees.

A diehard Eurosceptic, committed to Britain's withdrawal from the EU, his name was quickly in the frame when rumours began circulating of fresh Tory defections to Ukip following Douglas Carswell's decision to jump ship.

On the second day of Ukip's party conference in Doncaster, South Yorkshire - and the eve of the Conservatives' annual gathering - Mr Reckless appeared on stage to announce he was switching allegiance, to rapturous applause.

''It is a decision I make from optimism, a decision that is borne of a belief that Britain can be better. And of my knowledge of how the Westminster parties hold us back but also of my belief in the fresh start Ukip offers," he said.


From Belfast Telegraph