World Bulletin/News Desk
Britain's anti-European Union UKIP party tried to embarrass Prime Minister David Cameron's ruling party on Tuesday by announcing it had recruited a former Conservative deputy mayor of London to its ranks.
The UK Independence Party unveiled the move just before Boris Johnson, the current London mayor and a Conservative heavyweight, was due to address his party's annual conference, the last such gathering before a national election in May.
UKIP, which wants Britain to leave the EU and to sharply curb immigration, has already poached two Conservative lawmakers and is threatening to split the centre-right vote in next year's election, making it harder for Cameron to get re-elected.
"UKIP talks to, listens to and speaks for the ordinary men and women of this country in a way that the other parties just cannot grasp," Barnes said in a UKIP statement. "On issues such as education, taxation, immigration and of course the European Union it is UKIP that is speaking for the majority."
Barnes faced embarrassment last year when naked photographs of a man's lower body appeared on his Facebook page. He said at the time his page had been hacked, saying he wouldn't be so stupid to post such images online.
Johnson, regarded as a possible Conservative leadership contender if Cameron steps aside, launched a bizarre attack on Conservatives thinking of joining UKIP on Monday, saying they were the kind of people who turned up to hospital with "barely credible injuries sustained through vacuum cleaner abuse."