A TORY peer has quit as president of Colne Valley Conservative Association to join the UK Independence Party.
The Earl of Dartmouth—whose family own large amounts of land in the Huddersfield area—said he was joining the party because he thought Britain would be better off outside the European Union.
He also criticised Tory leader David Cameron, accusing him of becoming a "slave to political correctness". He is the third Conservative peer to defect to UKIP in recent weeks.
Lord Dartmouth, 57, a former candidate in general and European elections, lost his hereditary seat in the House of Lords under Labour's reforms.
He accused David Cameron of turning the Conservatives into an anti-US and anti-business party.
Commenting on his defection he said: "Britain and Northern Ireland would be better off outside the European Union.
"We would no longer be paying a net £11bn a year. We would no longer be subjected to ill-considered, job-destroying regulation.
"We would regain control of our borders. We could engage with the world outside the EU, in particular the fast-growing economies of India and China, on our own terms and in our own way.
"That is why I am joining a group of people that I respect."
Earlier this month Conservative peers Lord Pearson and Lord Willoughby de Broke announced they were switching to UKIP.
Lord Dartmouth, who became the 10th Earl of Dartmouth in 1997, stood as Tory candidate in Leigh in the General Election in February 1974 and at Stockport South in October of the same year.
He was a Conservative candidate for the European Parliament in June 1999.
Welcoming Lord Dartmouth's switch, UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: "He brings valuable political experience, a fine brain and business experience.
"This move is another indication of the disarray in the Conservative Party and the discontent with Cameron's leadership."
In other news, but also not online, The Sun's Whip column reports that Lord Young is thinking of jumping ship too.
WESTMINSTER has been awash with rumours that another Conservative peer will shortly quit the party to join the UK Independence Party. The Whip hears that Lord Young, former Trade Secretary and one of Lady Thatcher's closest colleagues, has been flirting with the idea of making more Eurosceptic noises.
David Young—the man, Maggie said, who brought her solutions instead of problems—may even have pencilled a meeting with UKIP leader Nigel Farage in his diary.
Indeed. It is rumoured, in fact, that Lord Young may not be entirely unconnected with the source who relayed Mrs T's message of support...