London Mayor Boris Johnson's former deputy has defected from the Conservative party to UKIP.

Richard Barnes, a former Hillingdon councillor and London Assembly for Ealing and Hillingdon from 2000 to 2012, made his announcement on the same day his old boss was due to address the Tory conference in Birmingham.

Mr Barnes said the Westminster Village was 'detached from ordinary people's lives' and UK Independence Party had the right answers on leaving the EU, immigration and HS2.

He told the Evening Standard: "Immigration is a good idea, but it has to bring a benefit to our economic, social and cultural life. It cannot be to take advantage of the NHS or to exploit the benefits system. At the moment it’s a mess. We don’t count people in, or count them out. That would be a good place to start."

 

He said prime minister David Cameron's plans to renegotiate the terms of the UK's membership of Europe and then hold a referendum was "just unrealistic".

Boris, who was recently adopted as the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, mocked defectors in his speech to the party members today. He told them to: "Chuck Salmond over board and eat the kippers for breakfast."

MPs Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless resigned from the Conservative Party in September to stand for UKIP.

Welcoming Mr Barnes to the fold, Diane James MEP, the UKIP home affairs spokesman, said: “I am delighted to welcome Richard who brings a wealth of experience into the party on counter terrorism and community cohesion.

“As UKIP grows, it is apparent that it is becoming the home to more and more people of depth, experience and authority”.

UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, welcomed Mr Barnes unreservedly. “It is great to have Richard along, both as a man of great political experience, but also for his depth of knowledge of counter terrorism.”

UKIP Hillingdon chairman, Cliff Dixon, said: “For a man of Richard’s calibre and status to be joining UKIP shows that we are now a serious player in the borough, and I look forward to working alongside him in the future.”

Mr Barnes was de-selected as a Conservative candidate for the local elections in May this year. He then stood as an independent and came fourth in the two-seat ward.