Stamford

Councillor departure reveals grassroots frustration over Brexit debate

County council bosses have sympathised with a councillor who quit the Conservative party yesterday over Brexit.

Lincolnshire County Council leader and Grantham and Stamford Conservative Association vice president councillor Martin Hill said the decision by Stamford councillor Robert Foulkes “was not a total surprise”.

Councillor Foulkes will now be independent but has also thrown his support behind the Brexit Party nationally.

“When he joined the Conservative party it was on the basis he was confident Brexit would be delivered by Theresa May,” said Councillor Hill.

“He’s been very frustrated with the lack of progress as many other people have as well.”

However, he expressed disappointment that Councillor Foulkes would not be helping to elect a new party leader or local MP.

In a statement announcing his resignation, councillor Foulkes, who joined the party from UKIP  in 2016, said he had been supporting Nigel Farage’s party since April.

Although he still supported the local Conservative group, he said national politicians had “betrayed Brexit”.

Speaking to Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Jaines he said most of the reaction had been sympathetic to his decision.

“The local Conservatives are not the problem, it’s the parliamentary party. That’s where the problem lies.

“They have failed on the democratic promise they made.

“I’m sure I’m not alone, there are thousands of supporters signed up to the Brexit Party, and thousands voted for the Brexit Party in the elections.”

He said he had been having doubts “since Chequers” adding: “We were all thinking this is terrible we were being betrayed.

“It’s not grassroots, the hierarchy are institutionally remain, that’s the problem – the Conservative party are split.”

Addressing concerns over the fact he had changed party twice now, he said: “To me, a local party is a means to an end – a vehicle to achieve change. UKIP were there to achieve the EU referendum.

“Conservatives made all the right noises, you can see that at county council elections.

“That’s fine, but if the vehicle swerves off-course you need to say this isn’t working.

“If it’s not achieving it anymore it’s common sense to say I’m not staying.”

Councillor Foulkes said he felt he could not be involved with selecting Tory candidates – adding he felt like a “double agent in all this.”

Fellow councillor Colin Davie warned both parties in Westminster that they needed to deliver their manifesto on Brexit.

“They both stood on manifestos saying they would take us out of the EU, no customs union or any of that nonsense, and they have both reneged on that,” he said.

Neither councillors Hill and Davie could say whether any further resignations were in the pipeline, but both said local members would be watching the Tory leadership contest closely.


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