A West Sussex councillor has quit the Conservatives and announced he hopes to become an MP more than 300 miles away, standing for the Brexit Party in Sunderland.
Viral Parikh, who represents the Bourne ward, in Chichester, was one of 50 Prospective Parliamentary Candidates announced at the weekend, who will court the Brexit vote at the next General Election.
Mr Parikh, who was elected in 2017, said he chose to leave the Conservatives because of the way the party had handled the entire EU situation.
He said: “I am leaving Conservative party because of national politics and our MPs refusing to accept democratic mandate from people.
“Politics needs to be changed and will of the people should be and must be respected.
“I would have never left Conservative party if Brexit would have been sorted because my heart and values are and will always be Conservative.”
He added: “I am a Brexiteer who believes that UK will prosper and do better outside EU.
“I believe that the money which we give to EU should be rather use in our country for education, local government, NHS, social and health care etc etc.
“I also believe that we should look at foreign aid and projects like HS2 as we could use that money where it is required the most.”
Mr Parikh is the third Conservative councillor to leave the West Sussex ranks in the past few weeks – though Andrew Lea, who is now an Independent Conservative, could rejoin the team on January 1 after being suspended for six months.
Mr Lea was one of several Tory councillors who backed calls for a vote of no confidence in leader Louise Goldsmith after a disastrous Ofsted report into the county’s children’s services.
Mr Parikh, however, had nothing but good things to say about Mrs Goldsmith.
He said: “I am extremely proud and happy the way our council is run under Conservatives and I cannot fault the hard work, dedication, vision of West Sussex county council leader Louise Goldsmith.
“She has always supported, helped, respected and valued my input and aspirations for the better of this county.”
Worthing West councillor Paul High, who is chairman of the Conservatives, said Mr Parikh’s decision was ‘somewhat of a surprise’, adding that he was ‘well-liked by the Conservative Group and beyond’.
After hearing the news, Labour councillor Michael Jones took to social media and said the West Sussex Tories ‘look like they are falling apart’, adding: “You couldn’t make this sort of thing up.”
Mr Parikh is a pharmacist by trade and studied at Sunderland University, before going on to work in Sunderland and Hartlepool.
When asked if he plans to continue as a county councillor until the General Election is called, he said: “Absolutely. Nothing has changed. I will be working for my residents from the opposition.”
Kevin Hughes, leader of the Labour group at both Chichester District Council and the city council, believed the decision not only to switch parties but to do so in order to stand in a constituency at the opposite end of the country was another example of ‘career-oriented politicians who fail to represent the needs and wishes of their residents and place their own interests ahead of those he was elected to serve’.