BBC News: Election 2010 BBC News

Page last updated at 17:07 GMT, Friday, 30 April 2010 18:07 UK

Rochester Tory candidate cancels UKIP leader walkabout

Mark Reckless
Mr Reckless said he did not want the visit to be "misinterpreted"

A Conservative candidate in Kent has called off a planned walkabout with the leader of the UK Independence Party.

Mark Reckless said he did not want the visit of UKIP leader Lord Pearson to the Rochester and Strood constituency to be "misinterpreted".

The visit was arranged after UKIP said it had decided not to field a candidate against Mr Reckless because of his eurosceptic views.

Mr Reckless's rival candidates accused him of "political naivety".

Lord Pearson was due to join Mr Reckless on the campaign trail at 1400 BST in Rochester Road, Cuxton.

A UKIP spokesman said the party was first told of the cancellation on Thursday evening.

'Caused ructions'

Mr Reckless said he had "shared concerns" expressed by Conservative Party HQ about the rendezvous.

He said: "I was delighted that (Lord Pearson) has withdrawn the UKIP candidate but I would not have wanted to appear with him so there was a great media hullaballoo.

"I would not want people to misinterpret him appearing with me."

A UKIP spokesman said: "This has clearly caused ructions within the Conservative Party.

"We are sure that Tory Central office is delighted with Mr Reckless's last minute change of heart."

Labour candidate Teresa Murray said: "This is another PR gaffe from Mark Reckless. There's a real schism in the party between eurosceptics and europhiles."

Liberal Democrat candidate Geoff Juby said: "I think UKIP are showing their true colours that they're just an arm of the Conservative Party."

Candidates announced for Rochester and Strood are: Lib Dem: Geoff Juby; Green: Simon Marchant; Labour: Teresa Murray; Conservative: Mark Reckless; English Democrats: Ron Sands.

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