UKIP’s troubles continue, with news today that 17 Councillors in Thurrock have left the party to set up a new group; the Thurrock Independents. The new party will now sit as the opposition party on Thurrock Council.
This is particularly devastating as the Thurrock branch has long been considered the jewel in the crown of UKIP. The constituency is the closest UKIP has ever come to winning a Parliamentary seat outside of defections.
MEP Tim Aker, who is one of the Councillors resigning the UKIP whip on the Council, came within 1,000 votes of taking the seat at the 2015 General Election. Even in 2017 when UKIP performed poorly across the country, UKIP still received more than 20% of the vote, the best result in the country by far.
Aker, who intends to stay on as as UKIP MEP, has told Westmonster: “UKIP has a job to do in the European Parliament in seeing we get the Brexit we voted for. I will stay as a UKIP MEP. But to better represent my constituents in Aveley, I had no choice but to follow my colleagues and represent the Thurrock Independents. We are one seat away from taking control of the council and bringing real change to our borough.”
In a statement, the Group Leader of Thurrock Independents, Cllr Graham Snell, today said: “Thurrock Independents have the only councillors in Thurrock whose prime concern will be Thurrock residents. They are not compromised by a slavish attachment to a national party. The party will only be standing in local elections.
“Our entire group joined Thurrock Independents as we have had enough of the aggressive and bitter reality of party politics. Our councillors have won widespread admiration for their hard work even from residents across the political spectrum. We hope that these admirers will now be able to support Thurrock Independents. Our logo represents the ethos of our party; hard graft, working together towards common goals, sacrifice and the importance of the protection of our environment.”
It is a hammer blow to the leadership of Henry Bolton, with the defecting Councillors having finally given up on UKIP following the recent controversy over Bolton’s private life.