UKIP replace Janice Atkinson with Labour defector

PinkNews logo with white background and rainbow corners

UKIP has named Labour defector Harriet Yeo as its new general election candidate, replacing expelled MEP Janice Atkinson.

The party earlier announced the expulsion of Ms Akinson and her chief of staff, Christine Hewitt, for bringing UKIP into disrepute over allegations of bogus expense claims.

Ms Hewitt had been filmed by The Sun appearing to ask restaurant staff to give her a receipt for £3,150 for a lunch attended by senior UKIP figures, which had only cost £950.

The newspaper said this would have allowed Ms Atkinson’s office to claim the higher total on expenses from a group funded by the European Parliament to boost UKIP’s finances.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said he hoped Ms Yeo’s selection would turn a “bad situation into a good situation”, adding that the party had also been “absolutely ruthlessly” if it needed to be in the way it dealt with problems.

Harriet Yeo, a Kent councillor and ex-trade unionist left Labour earlier this year, citing Ed Miliband’s refusal to grant a referendum on EU membership.

She said: “I’m so proud to be able to represent Folkestone and Hythe for UKIP.

“I was born in Kent, I live in Kent and work in Kent. This county needs a party that will put the people of Kent first. We don’t have that at the moment.

“The Conservatives take us for granted, the Labour Party ignore us and it’s about time that we had a voice that this part of the country needs.”

Ms Atkinson earlier said she was “deeply disappointed” by the decision to expel her and announced plans to appeal.

She plans to carry on sitting as an MEP.

Ms Atkinson last month called for the role of Minister for Women and Equalities to be scrapped.

The MEP – who famously referred to an Asian woman as a “ting-tong from somewhere” – made the pledge in a speech to the Spring Party Conference in Margate.

In August 2013, Ms Atkinson criticised moves to legalise same-sex marriage, saying “I am quite traditional – I don’t believe in gay marriage”.

Speaking of voters in Sevenoaks, she added: “People here are against gay marriage – I have been to people’s houses talking to them.

“It’s not about equality it’s about making David Cameron look good.”

A trade unionist for two decades and former president of the TSSA union, in October 2013 Ms Yeo attacked the trade union movement for its “awful” culture, “outrageous” behaviour of its members, arguing that they are “stuck in a time warp.”