Ukip’s first elected MP Douglas Carswell won’t run again – and will vote Tory

“Job done. I’m delighted.”


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Douglas Carswell, one of the New Statesman's favourite honourable members, will stand down at the next election. Now an independent after leaving Ukip in March, Carswell was Ukip's first elected MP - after defecting from the Tories in 2014, triggering a by-election in his Clacton seat. He says he will now vote Conservative on 8 June.

His reason?

"I have done everything possible to ensure we got, and won, a referendum to leave the European Union - even changing parties and triggering a by election to help nudge things along. Last summer, we won that referendum. Britain is going to become a sovereign country again . . . 

"It is sometimes said that all political careers end in failure. It doesn't feel like that to me today. I have stood for Parliament five times, won four times, and helped win the referendum last June. Job done. I'm delighted."

The real reason?

Carswell would most likely lose his seat to the Tories this time round. He knows his success in the constituency so far has resulted more from whichever party he's deigned to belong to than his own popularity. There is even speculation that he tried and failed to rejoin his old party to run again as a Tory. And he is tangled up in a messy internal Ukip feud with the party's former donor Arron Banks - who pledged to run against the MP who he labelled "a poor return for four million votes" in Clacton.

As for the dream of Brexit Britain? Perhaps he'd rather be in a job where he can dodge the blame when it turns out not to be a utopia.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.