Sajjad Karim, Liberal Democrat MEP for the North West region and apparently the first Muslim elected to the European Parliament, has today announced he is defecting to the Conservatives:
"David Cameron’s recent speech on immigration was incredibly impressive – sensible, rational and positive. It persuaded me that he is a leader who has changed his party and will change this country. I’m afraid that the Liberal Democrats have lost their way and are no longer a serious force in politics. I’m here to serve the people of the North West and I think I can only do that now as a Conservative. I’m sure I will not be the last politician to reach the same conclusion."
Karim is now officially under the Conservative whip. He had recently been reselected as the second-placed Lib Dem candidate (behind the active Chris Davies) by North West Lib Dems, but as the North West region is losing an MEP his re-election was in doubt.
David Sumberg, one of the three Conservative MEPs for the North West, is standing down at the next election but the rules state that his "top slot" on the list has to be taken by a female candidate.
The Conservative MEPs are electing the next leader of their delegation on Wednesday. It is not clear whether incumbent leader Timothy Kirkhope, who was involved in negotiating Karim’s defection, will be able to win.