Bob Spink becomes Ukip’s first MP

Former Conservative MP Bob Spink has become the UK Independence party’s (Ukip) first MP.

It comes after the MP for Castle Point in Essex lost the Tory whip after remarks about failing to root out corruption in the local party.

Mr Spink, one of the Commons’ most vocal opponents of abortion, said he had become “increasingly disappointed” with the Conservatives’ drift to the centre-right.

He explained his disagreements on issues like pensions, crime, immigration and defence had led to him voting against the Tory whip frequently in recent years.

On the EU, Ukip’s most prominent issue, he added: “I am pro, not anti-European, but positive and sensible cooperation with the EU does not require us to sell the British people down the river or to give our independence away.”

Ukip leader Nigel Farage described Mr Spink as “hard-working and deeply principled” and described his decision to join the party as a “logical step” to take given his beliefs.

Difficulties with Mr Spink’s constituency party were key to his departure. Mr Spink had accused his local party of “serious criminal and other irregularities”,

That led to chief whip Patrick McLoughlin withdrawing the whip prior to Mr Spink’s resignation, a claim Mr Spink dismissed as “brass-knecked dishonesty”.

It was reported locally that Mr Spink had fallen out with local councillor Bill Sharp after being romantically linked to his partner Gail Boland, a former councillor.