POLITICS: Why I've left the party

I have ceased to be a member of Ukip.

It was not an easy decision to make and involved several months of careful deliberation before I came to the conclusion that I should leave the party that I joined in 2004, and for which I was twice a Parliamentary candidate.

Before giving the reasons for my decision, I would like to put on public record my thanks to the local committee and members of Ukip, particularly Michael and Margaret Weatheritt for their unstinting support during the time that I was active for the party in this constituency.

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It was a great privilege to have been given the opportunity to stand as the candidate in the 2015 general election.

I joined Ukip for two main reasons. Firstly, it was the only party committed to leaving the European Union. Secondly, I believed that there was a need for an alternative to the status quo and that Ukip had the potential to become that new party, unencumbered by the entrenched political interests of the established political elite.

During the period of my membership, the party grew from being a pressure group to a force that won the European elections in 2014, attracted the support of 15 per cent of the electorate at the 2015 election, and was instrumental in bringing about, and winning, the 2016 referendum on our membership of the European Union.

Sadly, though, since those halcyon days, the party has lost its way nationally. Three leadership elections in a year and a loss of direction mean that it is not likely to regain its momentum and influence at a time when other threats are rising to confront our country.

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Just as there were two reasons for joining Ukip, there are two main reasons for my departure.

Locally, we have an MP who is committed to the Brexit cause. I want to continue supporting her in the way that I endorsed her candidature in the recent general election.

The state of the Brexit negotiations means that a cross-party approach is vital. To that end I have joined the cross-party group Change Britain, which succeeded Vote Leave, for which I was a co-ordinator during the referendum last year.

This group will become increasingly active over the coming months as we campaign to ensure that we are again an independent nation by the promised date of March 2019.

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Secondly, I believe that we are witnessing the rise of a Marxist-inspired Labour party. It is my view that a Corbyn-led administration, no longer just a fantasy of a few left-wing ideologues, would be an unmitigated disaster, causing an economic and social Armageddon from which there would be no recovery.

In the electoral battles ahead to prevent this happening, I fear that UKIP would be a distraction that might just, inadvertently, help bring it into existence. I cannot stand by and watch this happen, which is why my political future, whatever that might be, lies elsewhere.

I accept that I am in receipt of some opprobrium for what I have done, but I am confident that I have done the right thing.

I will not disappear. Too much is at stake. In the words of Douglas MacArthur in March 1942, “I shall return” (to the political fray in Alnwick).

Nigel Coghill-Marshall,

Ukip Candidate Berwick-upon-Tweed 2015