Many Tories 'unable to forgive' Mark Reckless

Andrew RT Davies and Mark Reckless
Image caption Could the defection of Mark Reckless (right) to Andrew RT Davies' group (left) backfire?

With his softly spoken professorial exterior, it is easy to forget quite how divisive a figure Mark Reckless is in the Conservative party.

There are many who are unable to forgive or forget his defection to UKIP on the eve of the Tory conference two and a half years ago.

The dramatic scenes then when Nigel Farage unveiled him in front of a roaring UKIP crowd was in marked contrast to Thursday's events in Cardiff Bay when it was done with as little fanfare as possible.

Aware of the sensitivities, there was no photo-shoot with him and the Welsh leader Andrew RT Davies.

The only picture of them together was in fact a quick snap by my colleague Dan Davies who bumped into them in the corridor in Cardiff Bay.

Image caption Byron Davies has spoken out against the decision to bring Mark Reckless into the party

Conservatives at the assembly are acutely aware of the big job of work ahead of them persuading the rest of the party that it will have been worth bringing Mr Reckless into the fold in order to become the main opposition.

Behind the scenes, they feel the criticism they got was less than expected which means they feel this can be toughed out.

The question is whether that is an overly optimistic assessment of the situation.

A number of Welsh Tory MPs are clearly unhappy.

Byron Davies was the first to break ranks, calling Mark Reckless a castoff and a lost soul before laying into the leadership of Andrew RT Davies.

The risk for Mr Davies is that he alienates himself from the rest of the party.

I suspect an area we will keep on returning to is the status of Mr Reckless.

For all intents and purposes, he is now a senior Welsh Conservative politician - and yet he is not a party member.

And not only is he not a member, it has been made quite clear he is not going to be allowed to be one any time soon.

Image caption Mark Reckless was one of seven AMs originally elected to represent UKIP at the 2016 election

Much of this will revolve around the language as well. The Tories at the assembly insist he will be known as a Welsh Conservative AM.

One Conservative MP told me that was delusional because of his barrier to party membership.

It is unclear where this goes and what Tories at Westminster, and Downing Street for that matter, can do to stop this in its tracks.

There has been nothing official from Downing Street. Behind the scenes I am told there is real anger. There is a lot of persuading to be done.

And while there may be much unhappiness in Conservative ranks, it is nothing compared to the anger on display within UKIP in Wales.

The last day of term at the assembly has a habit of giving us something to talk about. The final day before the Easter break was no exception.

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