Cancelled: The skirmish on the sea front is off as Carswell quits
PUBLISHED: 16:56 20 April 2017 | UPDATED: 16:57 20 April 2017
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Sitting MP Douglas Carswell has announced he will not stand in the general election – dodging a dust up with Brexit bad boy Arron Banks.
The former Tory who defected to UKIP – before quitting that party as well – said he would be voting Conservative on June 8 but has decided that “it is time for me to move on to other things”.
The move denies the public what would have been one of the most fascinating battles in recent electoral history as millionaire businessman and former UKIP funder Banks, who has accused Carswell of deliberately undermining the party and Nigel Farage, is standing.
The Clacton MP sensationally defected from the Tories to UKIP in 2014 and became the eurosceptic party’s first elected member in a subsequent by-election.
But he fell out spectacularly with then leader Farage and quit the party earlier this year to sit as an independent.
In a message to constituents, Mr Carswell said: “I have done everything possible to ensure we got, and won, a referendum to leave the European Union, even changing parties and triggering a by-election to help nudge things along.
“Last summer, we won that referendum. Britain is going to become a sovereign country again.
“I have decided that I will not now be seeking re-election.
“I intend to vote Conservative b*on June 8 and will be offering my full support to whoever the Clacton constituency Conservatives select as their candidate.
“It is sometimes said that all political careers end in failure. It doesn’t feel like that to me today.
“I have stood for Parliament five times, won four times, and helped win the referendum last June. Job done. I’m delighted.
“Having been an MP for about half my adult life, I believe that it is time for me to move on to other things.
“I look forward to being able to read newspapers without appearing in them.”
Carswell, 45, was first elected Conservative MP for Harwich in 2005 and has represented Clacton in Parliament since 2010 following boundary changes.
He had a solid 12,000 majority as a Conservative in the 2010 election, holding the seat by almost 3,500 votes for Ukip in 2015.
Banks confirmed he would “absolutely” still be standing for election in Clacton, telling BBC Radio Essex he believed Carswell had stood down because “he was scared of losing”.