Five recently re-elected UKIP councillors have been suspended after splitting away from the official council group and forming their own ‘Tendring UKIP’ organisation.
Originally, nine members of the local party who are said to be supportive of local MP Douglas Carswell broke away from the official UKIP group and formed their own faction, in order to gain cabinet positions and work more closely with the Conservative Party.
But the new Tendring UKIP group has now split, with 4 members returning to the original UKIP group, and 5 being suspended by the party Chairman Steve Crowther under his emergency powers.
The news has been confirmed by Breitbart London through UKIP’s HQ, which issued a statement from the UKIP group leader Mark Stephenson. He said:
“This situation of course is not what we wanted for the electorate, but we are where we are”, said Stephenson, “but they opted for an easier career and disregarded an overwhelming democratic majority decision, that rejected a coalition. They ignored the wishes of those who voted for them, and the democratic decision of the UKIP group. Despite a series of attempt to find common ground that became impossible so we have taken the decision to suspend Cllrs Mick Skeels snr and jnr, John Hughes, Anne Poonian and John Chittock, under rule 11.9-11.11 of the UKIP Constitution”.
Party sources told Breitbart London of the split last week, remarking that it was Mr Carswell’s fault for stoking local tensions between himself and the party leadership. But Mr Carswell denies this, claiming that he backs the official UKIP group. This comment led one party insider to remark, “He’s backtracking now.”
The Clacton Gazette also reports the disciplinary action, noting that Mick Skeels ands others had confirmed their suspension from UKIP.
He said: “We fear that the Ukip group’s approach not to work with the Conservatives and Independents will, at best, deny them the opportunity to play a key role in Tendring’s future and, at worst, result in endless in-fighting on the council.”
Skeels, who defected from the Conservatives to UKIP shortly after Douglas Carswell, is pictured here campaigning alongside the MP in January 2015. Mr Carswell described him at the time as “excellent” and “a good man”.
Tendring District Council results saw 23 Conservative councillors, 22 UKIP councillors, six Independents, four Labour and others elected on May 7th.
One anonymous, local source told Breitbart London last night that the four councillors who were brought back into the fold were said to have signed “confidentiality agreements” to “keep it all quiet”.
Breitbart London has also seen a letter of explanation sent to residents by Cllr Laurie Gray, who admits to being “a rookie” who “trusted the very people that I have distrusted all my life,” when making the switch to the splinter group last week.
Cllr Gray has since switched back to the official UKIP group and apologised to those who elected him. He said, “I made it clear from the start I did not want any of these highly paid unnecessary jobs, I can work for a living. I made a mistake when I believed in the honesty of others. Never again.”
The story continues to develop.
Update: The story originally stated that the 5 councillors were suspended by the National Executive Committee. UKIP source have since clarified to Breitbart London that the decision was taken by Regional Officers at a meeting on Tuesday, and the suspensions were enacted by Party Chairman Steve Crowther under his emergency powers later that day.