A ONE-TIME UKIP and Independent councillor has made the move back to the Tory party...with MPs predicting there will be more defections.

James Moyies, who started as the chairman of the Thorpe Bay Conservatives, later became a UKIP councillor before defecting to form the Southend Independent Group.

He has now just joined the Tories again, saying: “ I believe the Prime Minister Theresa May has the policies and ideas that will create a bright future for my family and for Rochford and Southend.

“For nearly 20 years I have campaigned for the UK to leave the EU and restore full sovereignty to Parliament.

“That focus led me to join the UKIP in which I played a significant role in developing its local election strategy which resulted in over 50 local councillors being elected across Essex.

“We have done our job now and now it is about getting as many Tory candidates elected. I have always known James Duddridge was one of the leading MP’s supporting the case for Brexit and I was delighted when we were able to work together on the Vote Leave campaign last year.

“At this stage it would be mad to waste a vote on UKIP or an independent with unknown national views. I am giving James my full support in the upcoming General Election.”

Mr Moyies was most recently a member of the Southend Independent Group until it disbanded.

Its two other members – Tino Callaghan and Lawrence Davies – joined fellow independent councillors to make up the Southend Independent Alliance.

Mr Davies said: “We are disappointed that James has joined the Tories but we are not surprised. We fully understand his reasons why and we wish him the best.

“We would like to say, as a group, Tino, James and myself, we worked very hard to get the Leave vote and it was a great success in our wards with a really high turnout. We led the Southend campaign, with some help from the Tories.

“We think James sees a better future for the Eurosceptic in the Tory party than in the Independents. We did what we came to do and we will now all work to make Southend a better place.”

Mr Moyies was kicked out of UKIP by Nigel Farage for excluding Floyd Waterworth, a UKIP councillor and Parliamentary candidate, from the UKIP council group.

At the same time, Mr Moyies said he would vote for Tory MP Mr Duddridge, not Mr Waterworth.

Two Essex MPs believe that there will be a lot more defection to the Tories in the near future.

James Duddridge, MP for Rochford and Southend East, said: “We are expecting more defections from both UKIP and the Liberal Democrats. The Conservative party is a broad church – at the election there is a clear choice Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn, people are coming back to the Tories”

Douglas Carswell, who became the first UKIP MP in 2014, recently defected to sit as an Independent but has now given his support to the Tories.

He added: “As a former UKIP MP I urge everyone to vote for Theresa May. To vote for any other party would be madness, either at the locals or the general election.”