This was the message that Timothy Kirkhope, Leader of our MEPs, emailed to all of his colleagues earlier today concerning the defection of Sajjad Karim:
"I am delighted to inform you all that SAJJAD KARIM, until now one of the Lib/Dem MEPs for the North West of England, has decided to join the Conservative Party and has accepted my offer to join our Delegation. The Chief Whip, with my authority, has informed him that he is in receipt of the Conservative Whip as of today.
This decision by Sajjad is a very important and courageous one and underlines the fact that under David Cameron’s leadership we are now, as a Party, with our "Broad Church" much more attractive to former Lib/Dem members. David Cameron himself has given his full approval and support to this decision by Sajjad.
The discussions themselves which I have carried on with Sajjad have, by necessity, been confidential and obviously sensitive but I am certain that the outcome will be of great mutual benefit to both him and us.
I will notify you in a separate message of an early opportunity for you all to meet with our new Conservative member although I appreciate some of you already know him – but obviously not in the new role which he is taking on.
This is a timely event falling as it does during the increasingly fractious Lib/Dem leadership election. Perhaps others may decide to leave that Party and join us. I do hope so."
Do the words (emboldened) in paragraph three mean what I think they mean? Has he been promised a top spot on the North West list – pour encourager les autres – thus denying a long-standing Conservative the chance to become an MEP? While I welcome any defection from the LibDems I’d like to be persuaded that his views are consistent with what we’d want from a Conservative representative. There has to be some suspicion that they are not (see here and here).