Man No One Has Heard Of Defects To UKIP

    Richard Barnes was deputy mayor of London under Boris Johnson until 2012. It's fair to say this defection hasn't set the world alight.

    by ,
    Richard Barnes

    BIRMINGHAM – The Conservative party conference is paralysed by the fear of another high-profile individual defecting from the party to UKIP. But judging by the response of delegates, the loss of Boris Johnson's former deputy mayor Richard Barnes to Nigel Farage's party is not going cause the Tories any sleepless nights.

    UKIP hoped to overshadow Johnson's speech to the conference by announcing Barnes' defection in Tuesday's Evening Standard.

    But it seems the loss of Barnes, who served as deputy mayor until 2012 and left the Conservatives earlier this year, has done little to dent confidence among ordinary Conservative party members. Or indeed, make much impact at all.

    BuzzFeed News asked 32 delegates on the conference floor the question: "Do you know who Richard Barnes is?"

    Most were baffled, with 29 respondents to the straw poll saying they had no idea who he was.

    "I don't know who the guy is so I don't know why I'd care," said party member Andy Milligan. "It's the equivalent of the former parish councillor for Little Upton defecting."

    One delegate, a Tory councillor, said: "I didn't know him at all. He obviously doesn't do much in the party."

    A fellow delegate added: "I was a party agent for 30 years and I know everyone, and I've never heard of him. You can write that down but don't name me, I've got a hangover."

    When BuzzFeed News described Barnes' defection, one individual exclaimed, "Was he the man who exposed himself?" This is a reference to when Barnes uploaded pictures of his penis to Facebook, in an apparent accident.

    Just three Conservative conference delegates said they knew who Richard Barnes is – and one of them worked for Boris Johnson.

    Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Jim Waterson at jim.waterson@buzzfeed.com.

    Siraj Datoo is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

    Contact Siraj Datoo at siraj.datoo@buzzfeed.com.

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