David Campbell Bannerman, MEP and former deputy leader of UKIP, has defected to the Conservative Party.

In a statement that has just gone out, Campbell Bannerman said:

“I have been pleased with the robust stance taken by David Cameron and Conservative MEPs over the EU budget negotiations and I believe that it is Conservative MEPs who are working hard to defend Britain's interests.”

The former Conservative councillor joined UKIP in 2002. He was tipped for the party's leadership when Lord Pearson stood down in 2010, but obviously now feels his fortunes lie elsewhere... Here's the full statement from the Tories:

Foreign Secretary William Hague has responded, saying:

I am very pleased that we can welcome David Campbell Bannerman back to the Conservative Party.  The Conservative Party is bringing in people who want to work in the national interest to sort out Britain’s problems. I am sure David Campbell Bannerman will be a valuable member of our team in the European Parliament.’

And Martin Callanan MEP, Leader of the Conservative MEPs, added:

I am delighted to welcome David Campbell Bannerman back into the Conservative Party and to our delegation in the European Parliament. This is another great sign of the growing influence of the European Conservative and Reformist Group (ECR) - now the fourth largest group in the European Parliament. We all look forward to working with David in championing the British national interest in Europe.”

UPDATE: It's interesting that DCB now considers Cameron's stance on the EU budget to be "robust". Last year, he was sharply critical of Cameron's attitude to Europe, saying: "Cameron has spent the last five years ditching Conservative policies on Europe." and "It's overwhelmingly clear now that trusting Cameron with Europe will be as misguided as trusting Blair on Iraq."

Tags: Conservative, David Campbell Bannerman, UKIP