UKIP claims there has been a “mass exodus” of Tory party activists to it following the defection of Clacton MP Douglas Carswell.

Conservative Party members have jumped ship following Mr Carswell’s shock move to the UK Independence Party.

It is thought that 150 local Tory party members have pledged their support to him.

The list includes a former Conservative Party chairman, the current and past treasurers and local activists.

Speaking exclusively to the Gazette, Mr Carswell said: “I struggled for a long time to make this jump, but I am amazed at the number of people who have decided they want to come with me.”

Former chairman of Frinton Conservative Ladies, Wendy Watson, 77, has thrown her support behind Mr Carswell.

She had supported the Conservatives since 1959, when she started delivering leaflets for the party.

“We helped Douglas to get elected and he proved to be the best MP we have ever had represent us,” she said.

“I was concerned about voting for Douglas next year because voting for him would have been a vote for the present Conservative leadership, so it is a relief that he had gone to UKIP and I can vote for the man we want.”

Clacton Conservative Association treasurer Mike Wadham and past treasurer Ashley Mooney have also jumped ship following Mr Carswell.