THE deputy leader of the Ukip group on Portsmouth City Council has defected to the Conservatives.
Councillor Steve Hastings, formerly a member of the Tory party for 30 years, has represented the Baffins Ward as a member of UKIP since May 2014.
He says that his reason for moving to UKIP originally was the EU issue and now that the David Cameron has a majority in Parliament, he is confident that the referendum will be held and that the party is the best place to be for those who want the UK to leave the EU.
He said: ‘Over the European issue I decided to opt out of the Conservative party and stand that ground. That is how I came to the council.
‘Now that the issue has been highlighted, and I have to say a lot of that is thanks to UKIP, I have now come to the position that the referendum I really want will happen.’
On returning to his old party, councillor Hastings said: ‘It’s a bit strange, the decision was hard to come to. I don’t want to let my colleagues at UKIP down but this is nothing to do with animosity to them.
‘The leader was initially taken aback but he has been very kind about it and understanding.’
The leader of Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Donna Jones, said: ‘I met with Steve and he said his reasons for being a UKIP member were mainly his concern with the EU and his desire to have a referendum.
‘Now that the Prime Minister has given his word that this will go ahead, he feels that the Conservative party are standing up best for British values and industry.
‘I am delighted to welcome him to our group. He will be a real asset and we welcome him with open arms’
The political make-up of the council is now: Conservative 18, Liberal Democrat 15, Ukip 4, Labour 4 and independent 1