As Ukip members today meet in a special conference to decide whether to ditch the beleaguered leader Henry Bolton, Mr Harris warns them that the party is “finished” and wants his former colleagues to help Jacob Rees Mogg and grassroots Tories win the fight over getting a proper Brexit.
The former Dagenham parliamentary candidate said: “The Tory grassroots members are absolutely 100 per cent behind a real Brexit.
“My principles and my task has not changed.
“I have not changed what I believe.
“My task is to get back our laws, control of our borders and our money.”
But he went on: “What I believe has changed is the mechanism.
I no longer believe Ukip is the way to achieve that and I now believe that joining the Conservative Party and like minded people within it we will be able to achieve more because after all the Conservative Party are in Government
“I no longer believe Ukip is the way to achieve that and I now believe that joining the Conservative Party and like minded people within it we will be able to achieve more because after all the Conservative Party are in Government.”
He said he agreed with Ukip’s former major backer Arron Banks who pointed out that with the Tory membership at an all time low at around 70,000 “the arrival of 20,000 Ukip members could make a real impact.”
The small businessman said that his “light bulb moment” to enter active politics for Ukip was hearing Nigel Farage.
But he said he had another one after hearing Mr Rees Mogg who he names along with other senior Tory backbenchers Bernard Jenkin, Peter Bone and Andrew Rosindell as MPs he “hugely admires”.
On Mr Rees Mogg he added: “The man is certainly speaking up for a lot of people in this country.
Tory coup: Jacob Rees-Mogg is a big sell for Ukip defectors
“It is remarkable Jacob Rees Mogg is having on the enthusiasm for people to support the Conservative Party.”
But Brexit and supporting Tory Brexiteers is not Mr Harris’ only motivation after fighting hard left Labour “on the front line” in Dagenham.
He said: “The other major factor was the clear and present danger of Momentum that are threatening to become the next government.
“It would set this country back decades and threaten Brexit.
“Having a strong Conservative Government is the only way to keep Corbyn and Momentum out of power.”
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He said: “It’s imperative that we get as many like minded people as possible to come and join the Conservative Party to make sure we keep the threat of Corbyn and Momentum out.”
He is also hopeful a number of members he led in Eat London will switch to the Tories as well.
He had been urged to stay by senior party members including general secretary Paul Oakley and Welsh leader Neil Hamilton but Mr Harris admitted to being “very restless with UKIP for a long time now” before his decision to quit.
He said: “I was there in the Emmanuel Centre when Nigel [Farage] resigned and my jaw hit the floor, I was shocked and hugely disappointed.
Peter Harris became last week the most senior figure of Ukip to quit and join the Tories
At a time when our credibility was at the highest and we had just achieved the ultimate goal that we set out to do, instead of signalling advance and building upon that success what we actually signalled with Nigel’s resignation was retreat.”
He said Mr Farage “left a void”.
He said: “I think the party was in shock and never really recovered from that point.
“We went from that moment went on this self destruction mode to a point now where we have a leader in Henry Bolton that is beyond a joke.
Mr Harris confessed he was ‘hugely disappointed’ when Nigel Farage quit as Ukip leader
“He simply does not grasp the magnitude of what he has done in finally destroying what had been built up.”
He went on: “In business I always see through the customer’s eyes, so I look through the voters’ eyes and what I am seeing and hearing from them is that Ukip has lost all credibility, has become a joke, a laughing stock and a party that they cannot take serious and cannot vote for.”
He pointed out that less than 80 days away from local elections the party had not even started to organise a campaign.
He said: “Ukip’s time as a mainstream political party is over.”