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UKIP has 'grim future' says councillor who didn't tell colleague living across the street he was switching to the Tories

PUBLISHED: 17:24 04 February 2019

Reg Silvester has defected from UKIP to the Conservative party. Picture: Archant

Reg Silvester has defected from UKIP to the Conservative party. Picture: Archant

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2016

A former UKIP councillor who has defected to the Conservatives has said his former party has a grim future.

Peter Ridgwell, who lives opposite Mr Silvester, wasn't told he had resigned. Picture: Matthew Usher.Peter Ridgwell, who lives opposite Mr Silvester, wasn't told he had resigned. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Reg Silvester, who represents Brandon East on Forest Heath District Council, said he crossed the floor because of a dislike of the current UKIP leadership and to ensure he had a vote if prime minister Theresa May surveyed the Conservative membership on Brexit.

However, former UKIP colleagues called the move “stupid” and criticised the fact that Mr Silvester did not discuss it with them before making the decision, despite living directly across the road from one colleague.

Mr Silvester, who served with UKIP for 15 years before resigning, said he was not sure whether he would stand in the May elections for the new West Suffolk council, adding that the Conservatives are “a bit desperate”.

He said: “I have always been a Conservative, I am still a leaver. It just seemed opportune. I have a number of friends there and I have been missing out with them.

“I want my ability to vote as a Conservative as to what happens over Brexit. I am a little bit disgruntled with the UKIP group here, I felt as if we were just three independents. I can’t see any future for UKIP, it is very grim.”

Roger Dicker, leader of the UKIP group which now includes him and Brandon East councillor Peter Ridgwell, said he knew nothing of Mr Silvester’s resignation before being informed by council officers.

Mr Ridgewell, meanwhile, said that despite living directly across the road to Mr Silvester, he found out fourth or fifth hand, but said he will stand as an independent in the forthcoming elections rather than for UKIP.

He said: “I think it is stupid myself. He didn’t walk over the road to talk to me and I am having all these people saying if I know anything and I am the last person to know.

“I think it is terrible. There is no point jumping ship. I will be standing as an independent most likely. It seems like UKIP has had its day.”

Mr Dicker said he was surprised by Mr Silvester’s move, particularly so close to the elections.

Alongside four independents, UKIP has two seats on Forest Heath District Council which is controlled by 21 Conservative councillors.

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