THE Tories and Ukip are “indistinguishable”, the SNP have said in reaction to news that Ukip’s former Scottish chairman is to stand for the Conservatives in the May council elections.

Paul Henke, a bomb disposal expert turned novelist, is aiming to win a seat on Stirling Council in the Forth and Endrick ward.

Henke was formerly the Scottish chairman of the pro-Brexit Ukip, running for office while Nigel Farage was at the party’s head.

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He battled the party in court in 2014 after they banned him for 100 years following his decision to publicly criticise Ukip’s Scottish European election candidate, former London party chairman David Coburn.

Commenting at the time, Henke told The Observer: “I’ve been in Ukip for eight years, stood in every election and spent a great deal of time, effort and money.”

Henke had his ban overturned on the grounds that it amounted to an expulsion in a legal battle which reportedly cost Ukip around £30,000.

After the battle, Henke left Ukip and later joined the Tories.

The National:

SNP MSP Michelle Thomson (above) said that the Conservatives’ decision to stand him in the May elections showed that Boris Johnson’s party and Ukip were “indistinguishable”.

She told The National: “When it comes to the Tories you’re never too far away from the far-right and allowing the former chair of Ukip to stand as a candidate demonstrates that. The Tories and Ukip are indistinguishable.

“This is another demonstration of how the Tories are completely out of touch with the people of Scotland as they stand a candidate whose former party have never been even near the fringes of politics in Scotland.

“The only party that has and will continue to stand up for the people of Scotland is the SNP and that is why it has to be a vote for the SNP on May 5th.”

In a statement on the Stirling Conservative Association website where Henke’s candidacy is announced, no mention is made of his having stood for office in the past for another party, or for the Tories in Bannockburn in 2017.

He is quoted saying: “I have watched as our services slowly but surely deteriorated. This year I decided to do more and I put my name forward to stand for the May elections.

“I am delighted to be selected and look forward to the campaign. All our communities deserve councillors that will work for them and with them to get the investment, support and services they deserve rather than the cuts they have had to endure.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: “Paul Henke stood for us in 2017 and he's standing for us again to stop the SNP and take forward the local priorities that matter to the people of Forth and Endrick.”

The Forth and Endrick ward returns three councillors. In 2007, 2012, and 2017, there was one SNP, one Tory, and a third seat which changed hands between those parties and Labour.