Although rebelling against one's own government on a matter of central political importance is usually seen as an act of political suicide, that was not the way it turned out for all of the so-called 'Maastricht rebels' who defied John Major in 1993-94.

For Iain Duncan Smith, for instance, it proved to be a great career move, paving the way for him to be elected party leader eight years later on a Eurosceptic ticket against the Major cabinet's leading Europhile, Ken Clarke.

But others fared less well – notably Sir Richard Body, whose reputation never quite recovered from a brutal jibe delivered by the normally mild-mannered then Prime Minister.

"Whenever I see him approaching, I hear the flapping of white coats," Major was reported to have said of his parliamentary colleague. Ouch!

First elected MP for Billericay in 1955, in the days when that seat was habitually the first to declare on election night, Richard Body had a stop-start beginning to his parliamentary career.

He lost the seat in 1959, before re-emerging in 1966 as MP for Holland and Boston, renamed Boston and Skegness for his final term from 1997 to 2001.

In some respects his views were ahead of their time. He was one of the first politicians to highlight the benefits of organic farming, and unlike the vast majority of Tory MPs, voted in favour of legalising gay sex at 16.

It was Body's agricultural background – he was rumoured to have written Private Eye's 'Down on the Farm' column under the pseudonym 'Old Muckspreader' - that ultimately drove him towards the Eurosceptic camp.

He became highly critical of the heavily subsidised farming associated with the Common Agricultural Policy, and tended to see supra-national or free trade groupings as the enemy of the organic movement which he championed.

It was, however, his own decision to resign the party whip in 1994, in protest at the decision to withdraw the whip from eight of the other rebels who voted against the EC Finance Bill.

He was not done with controversy though. In 1999 he put down an early day motion claiming the writer Robert Henderson was being bugged by the security services on the orders of Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Henderson had previously written an article in Wisden Cricket Monthly which suggested that only "unequivocal Englishmen" should play for England which was widely considered racist.

Even Body's subsequent defection to the UK Independence party, triumphantly announced on the homepage of the party's website, was less straightforward than at first it seemed.

Nine days later, the by then former MP told thousands of Boston Target readers that he would be voting Conservative  at the 2005 election and advised them to do the same.

There was dark talk among some Boston UKIP members of referring the party's new star signing to its disciplinary committee for"'bringing the party into disrepute.'

The party evidently forgave him, however, and its website now lists him as a "UKIP grandee" (although his UKIP membership lapsed in 2008 and he later joined the English Democrats).

Tags: Issue 33, Maastricht, Sir Richard Brody