MP’s sister quits Tories only days ahead of election

ALL CHANGE Sarah Dinenage celebrating her victory in 2008 with Lee Hunt at Portsmouth Guildhall
ALL CHANGE Sarah Dinenage celebrating her victory in 2008 with Lee Hunt at Portsmouth Guildhall

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THE youngest member of the Dinenage dynasty has turned her back on the Conservative party.

With less than a fortnight to go until she stands down as a ward councillor for Milton, Sarah Dinenage has defected to Portsmouth’s Lib Dems.

The 30-year-old sister of Gosport Tory MP Caroline – and daughter of TV veteran Fred – claimed that bitter divisions within the local Tory party had driven her out.

She also said she was following her friend and former campaign manager, Cllr Lee Hunt, who defected in 2009.

But leader of the city council’s Conservatives, Cllr Simon Bosher, dismissed the announcement as political mischief-making in the run-up to the elections on May 3 and denied there was any split in his group.

Miss Dinenage said: ‘Portsmouth’s Tories have spent a lot of time fighting among themselves rather than fighting the opposition or getting things done. There were times when I really didn’t want to attend meetings.’

She added: ‘I was very keen when I came into the council and I want to regain that frame of mind again.

‘I’d like to go back to being part of a good team.’

Miss Dinenage said she would spend the next two weeks helping the Lib Dems with their campaign.

She added that she had not spoken to her sister Caroline about the decision.

‘We share the same last name but we are very different people,’ she said. ‘This isn’t something that is against the Tory party nationally.

‘This is about my own situation and my own experiences.’

Cllr Bosher said the announcement was disappointing.

He added: ‘There seem to be some candidates who will stand for whatever party they think can get them elected. It has nothing to do with political convictions or anything like that. In Sarah’s case, it’s up to her what she does, but I think she is a bit of an embarrassment to her sister.

‘And I can’t see where she’s coming from. She has always been made to feel welcome and we all work very well together.

‘She has attended so few meetings I don’t see how she can say she knows what is going on in our group anyway. The timing of this announcement strikes me as purely political mischief-making and Portsmouth deserves better. But I do wish her well.’

Caroline Dinenage did not want to comment when approached by The News.