UKIP loses its only MP

Douglas Carswell's announcement comes just days before UK Prime Minister Theresa May formally triggers the divorce process triggered by last June's vote to quit the EU.

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UKIP loses its only MP

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The UK Independence Party (UKIP) has lost its only MP.

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"Douglas was never a comfortable Ukipper"

Paul Nuttall UKIP leader

Douglas Carswell has announced he is leaving the party.

The 46-year-old defected to the UK Independence Party (UKIP) in August 2014 from the Conservative Party, led by the then-Prime MInister David Cameron.

He went on to win a by-election in the seaside town of Clacton.

The British populist party is widely credited as having been a major factor behind the country’s decision to leave the European Union.

Carswell’s announcement comes just four days before UK Prime Minister Theresa May formally triggers the EU divorce process triggered by last June’s referendum vote to quit the Union that Britain joined 44 years ago.

What Carwell says

Like many of you, I switched to UKIP because I desperately wanted us to leave the EU,” Carswell said in a statement. “Now we can be certain that that is going to happen, I have decided that I will be leaving UKIP.”

“I will leave UKIP amicably, cheerfully and in the knowledge that we won.”

What will he do now?

Carswell says he will remain as an independent Member of Parliament (MP) for Clacton until the next general election. This is due in 2020.

A feud with Farage?

UKIP’s best-known politician, Nigel Farage, held a long-running feud with Carswell over party policies. He had previously accused the MP for Clacton of trying to split the party.

The defection will raise questions within UKIP as the party hopes to capitalise on its successful campaign to leave the EU.

Which way now for UKIP?

After months of turmoil following Farage’s decision to step down as leader last June, UKIP finally elected its former chairman Paul Nuttall as leader in November.

The party was aiming to increase its representation in the 650-seat parliament.

However, in February, Nuttall failed in his bid to win a by-election in the central England constituency of Stoke. It had been one of the most solidly pro-Brexit areas in England during the referendum.

In a statement, Nuttall said: “Douglas was genuinely committed to Brexit but was never a comfortable Ukipper.”

“Our party has not benefited financially or organisationally from having Douglas in Westminster. His departure will make no difference to my ability or focus on delivering the reforms I promised when elected as leader.”