14:57 GMT20 April 2021
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    Britain’s political upstart UKIP looks set to filch the Conservative stronghold of Rochester and snag itself a second parliamentary seat as latest figures put challenger Mark Reckless in pole position for the Kent by-election.

    A new survey by Tory peer Lord Ashcroft shows UKIP on 44 per cent, 12 points ahead of the Conservatives on 32 per cent, with Labour lagging on 17 per cent and the Liberal Democrats pulling just 2 per cent of support for the Rochester and Strood vote on November 20.

    A Com Res poll last month found similar results, with no fewer than four in 10 of those who voted for Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative party in 2010 planning to switch allegiance.

    Mr Cameron himself admitted yesterday that it is now "a two-horse race" and suggested that the Tories may need to rely on the support of other parties if they are to fight off UKIP and win the crucial vote.

    Tories rattled by UKIP defections

    Kent has always been a Conservative county — in the last election, every single parliamentary seat in Kent was taken by the Conservatives. But, the second biggest party is now UKIP.

    The sitting MP, Mark Reckless, resigned from the Conservatives and is standing for the anti-EU party UKIP. And, given the level of Euro-scepticism in Kent, his challenge may well prove to be victorious.

    King of the castle? Tory-turned-UKIP MP Mark Reckless outside Rochester Castle, Kent, Britain ahead of the crucial Nov 20 by-election

    Last month, Douglas Carswell in Clacton, Essex stood down from the Conservatives and then regained his seat for UKIP, becoming their first directly elected MP. Rochester and Strood could well give UKIP their second.

    European invasion

    To a large degree, this political inclination appears to be in response an influx of immigrants, mostly illegal, that Kent has been seeing over the past few years.

    Every day for the past decade there have been repeated attempts, quite a few successful, by illegal immigrants to jump the barriers at Calais in France and cross to Dover to get to the UK. There were skirmishes at Sangatte, the notorious refugee camp outside Calais that was eventually closed down under pressure from London. But its closure did not solve the issue of illegal immigration into the UK.

    In Dover, Deal, Folkestone and many other Kent towns, there is growing anger at the unhindered levels of immigration into the county that was never ‘conquered' in its long history, yet which locals say is being invaded today.

    This feeling goes to the root of the Conservative party, many of whose members are deeply Euro-sceptic and feel more affinity with the UK Independence Party over Europe.
    If Kent goes UKIP, it will split the Tories and more Conservative MPs may switch sides and join UKIP before the May, 2015 general elections.


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