A senior Conservative MP has called on his party not to stand in the Clacton by election, in which ex-Tory MP Douglas Carswell is likely to be elected for Ukip.
Former deputy speaker Nigel Evans, told Sky’s Murnaghan programme that his party should “sit this one out and let Douglas get on with it”, following polls published yesterday which show the Conservatives are likely to suffer a humiliating defeat.
Evans called the by election, which will involve an expensive campaign for both Ukip and the Tories, “a total distraction” and said many in the party feel let down by his decision to leave.
Carswell, who had been Clacton’s Conservative MP since 2005, announced his defection to Nigel Farage’s Ukip last week, triggering a race to win back the seat.
A poll in yesterday’s Mail on Sunday and conducted by Survation, showed Ukip on 64 per cent of the vote with the Tories trailing on 20 per cent. Labour scored just 13 per cent with Nick Clegg’s troubled Liberal Democrats coming last on two per cent.
Of the Conservative voters asked, 49 per cent called Carswell a “hero” despite his defection, with just 17 per cent saying he was a traitor. Over half of the 700 people polled said they would like to leave the European Union.