Horsham Tory quits party after he is dumped as a candidate

Jim Rae, pictured in 2013
Jim Rae, pictured in 2013

A controversial Horsham Tory councillor tonight took to social media to say he had quit the party and would continue as an independent.

The announcement by Jim Rae (Holbrook East) follows unconfirmed reports that on Saturday Horsham Conservative Association members dumped him as a candidate for May’s district council elections.

At Saturday’s meeting the association chose the line-up to represent the party in the district poll - but in an unprecedented move ditched the existing councillor.

It is understood another high profile Horsham councillor has also been axed by party members. The County Times will bring further details as soon as they are verified.

Mr Rae, who is also a West Sussex county councillor for the Roffey division, announced in a public Facebook post tonight (Sunday February 15) he had left the Conservatives because he had been ‘sold down the river’ by the National Conservative Party Board in their ‘selfish quest for party unity’.

He wrote: “All I have ever tried to do is to serve my residents with honesty and integrity 24/7, As of five minutes ago I am now an Independent - only because the Conservative Party at the national level put party before the interest of hard-working loyal and committed Conservative councillor - let this be a lesson to all!

“As far as Horsham district is concerned I am now mulling over a proposition put to me earlier today by a consortium of Horsham district businessmen and women to bring back honesty and integrity to politics at the highest level ... watch this space!”

It is not clear what Mr Rae meant by the final comment - but it could indicate he is considering standing as a potential independent MP in the forthcoming general election, which will be hotly contested in Horsham after Tory Francis Maude said he was not restanding.

Mr Rae has drawn the ire of many residents over his support for HDC’s planning framework, which includes 2,500 homes and a business park north of the A264.

The Horsham Conservative Association covers only part of the Horsham district, as the southern part is represented by the Arundel and South Downs Conservative Association.

For many more on this story as it develops check our website and this Thursday’s paper.