MEP 'hypocrite' over party shift
A Euro MP has been branded a hypocrite by a former party colleague after quitting the Tories to join UKIP.
Roger Helmer left the Conservatives last weekend in a row with his party over who should succeed him if he resigned, and will now represent the East Midlands as a UKIP member.
Mr Helmer had urged party colleague Bill Newton Dunn to resign when he quit the Tories to become a Liberal Democrat.
In a book published last year, Mr Helmer referred to him as Bill "Turncoat" Dunn.
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Mr Newton Dunn said: "Though I can understand Roger's decision, what I cannot abide is his hypocrisy – even duplicity.
"In November 2000, Roger demanded that I immediately resign as a result of my move to the Liberal Democrats, despite there being no legal requirement to do so.
"Will he follow his own demands and resign immediately? Or does he agree that he was wrong back in 2000?"
In a speech to the European parliament at the time, Mr Helmer said: "(The people) voted for a party list and Mr Newton Dunn represented himself as fully in support of the Conservative Party, its leader and its European policy.
"He has now completely abrogated that position and he is, therefore, denying the democratic rights of the voters of the East Midlands, over 40 per cent of whom voted Conservative.
"I call on Mr Newton Dunn to resign."
Mr Helmer, who lives in Ashby Magna, announced his intention to resign as an MEP late last year after representing the East Midlands since 1999.
Under the Conservative Party's constitution, his seat should have been offered to Rupert Matthews, the candidate who was next on the party's list of candidates for the East Midlands at the 2009 election.
However, the party said it could not guarantee that Mr Matthews – a eurosceptic who lectures on the paranormal – would be chosen to succeed him in the £73,000-a-year role.
As a result Mr Helmer delayed his resignation, before announcing that he had joined UKIP, at the party's spring conference in Skegness.
He was unavailable for comment yesterday but wrote on his website: "I have always argued that a parliamentarian who finds himself no longer able to support the party should stand aside in favour of another Conservative.
"I have roundly criticised former colleagues who failed to do so, like Bill Newton Dunn.
"But, in this case, as you will be aware, I sought in good faith to do the honourable thing, and to resign in favour of the next-in-line Conservative, Rupert Matthews.
"Indeed in October I announced my intention to resign at the end of 2011.
"But that plan was frustrated by the deliberate obstinacy and recalcitrance of the party chairman (Baroness Warsi)."
The Conservative Party has declined to comment on the issue.