The Conservative Party is now the largest party on the Brighton and Hove City Council after a Labour councillor defected to the Tories yesterday.
Anne Meadows, one of three councillors for the Mouslecoom and Bevendean ward, resigned from the Labour Party to join the Conservatives following her deselection by party membersas a candidate for the upcoming local elections in May.
Meadows has claimed that Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism within the party and the ‘dreadful way the Momentum caucus [in the ward]… treated [her]’ was behind her decision to join the Conservative Party.
Her decision now makes the Conservatives the largest party on the council for the first time since 2011. The party now controls 21 seats on the council, with Labour on 20, the Greens on 11, with one independent and one vacancy following a resignation of a councillor.
The local Conservative Party have signalled their intent to try and form a minority adminstration, but with the left-wing Green Party holding the balance of power, this seems unlikely to take place.
Councillor Tony Janio praised the news, telling Brighton and Hove News: “The Conservatives will now have eight weeks to show the residents of Brighton, Hove and Portslade just how effective we would be if we were elected to form a full four-year administration.
“We will not let them down as Labour has over the past four years.”
The move also attracted support from the Prime Minister Theresa May in yesterday’s session of Prime Minister’s Questions. May said: “Long serving Labour councillor Anne Meadows in Brighton and Hove has chosen to leave Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party and join the Conservatives.
“That’s due to the bullying and anti-Semitism she has received from Momentum and the hard left.
“That’s the harsh reality that decent moderate Labour councillors are having to face every day due to Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to stand up to bullying and racism in his party”.
However, Meadows’ defection has been received with widespread condemnation from Labour supporters, including Brighton Kemptown MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who described her decision as a “bare-faced career move”, adding she had “betrayed the party for her own self-preservation”.
Elections to the local council are due to take place for all 54 seats on May 2nd.
The news comes after eight Labour MPs have quit the party to form a new political group of independent MPs.