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Former Ukip Dagenham and Rainham parliamentary candidate Peter Harris defects to Conservatives

PUBLISHED: 14:29 09 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:41 09 February 2018

Peter Harris celebrating Brexit Day at the Eastbrook pub. Picture: Jacob Ranson

Peter Harris celebrating Brexit Day at the Eastbrook pub. Picture: Jacob Ranson

Archant

The Conservatives are “celebrating” the defection of Ukip’s former parliamentary candidate and regional controller for London Peter Harris, who is from Dagenham.

“Ukip’s time has passed,” he said. “Only the Conservatives are capable of ending Labour’s reign at the Town Hall.”

Mr Harris has become disillusioned with his former party and its leader, tweeting that beleagured leader Henry Bolton should resign “for the good of the party.”

Conservative London Assembly member Andrew Boff, who lives in Barking, said he is “delighted by Peter’s change of heart.”

“He is going to be an enormous asset for us. His experience and contacts in the community mean Labour can’t take Dagenham for granted,” he added.

“They have a fight on their hands.”

Mr Harris is a local businessman who has been president of the Barking and Dagenham Chamber of Commerce, Governor of Barking and Dagenham College and trustee of the May and Baker Eastbrook Community Club. He is also a former Met Police special constable.

He said: “If we are to hold this council to account then we need to get behind the task of electing a large number of Conservative councillors in May.”

The Conservatives are the only real alternative to Labour in the borough,” he said.

“The credibility [of Ukip] is on the floor,” he said.

Mr Harris, a keen Brexit supporter who is anti-immigration and has regularly tweeted his support for Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, will find himself on the right of his adopted party.

“Am I a supporter of Jacob Rees-Mogg and his views? Absolutely,” he said.

The Conservatives are “a broad church,” he said, but added that he hasn’t always agreed with decisions taken by the party leadership.

He said he hopes to work with others on the right of the party to help deliver the Brexit he thinks the country needs.

Mr Harris, who now lives in Essex, says he intends to stand as a candidate in May’s local elections and while he refused to be drawn on whether he wanted to stand in a parliamentary election, he said it is “certainly something I will look at.”

A Ukip spokesman said: “He’s a damned fine man and we are sorry to see him go.

“We would like to wish him all the best for the future.”

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