Vote reveals brutal splits in Portsmouth’s Tory party

(left to right)  Alistair Thompson, Leo Ciccarone. Picture: Malcolm Wells
(left to right) Alistair Thompson, Leo Ciccarone. Picture: Malcolm Wells
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SPLITS in the Conservative Party have seen a brutal coup in the city. 

Tory members voted overwhelmingly to sack the Portsmouth South Conservative Association leadership at a meeting at St Agatha’s Church.

Conflicting reports from inside the meeting say it was agreed the management committee would resign if they lost – which they did after more than 100 party members turned out for the vote.

But association chairman Leo Ciccarone told The News: ‘I’m carrying on until such time we’ve got things sorted and then I’ll hand it over or carry on according to the wishes of the party and the association.

‘There was no agreement for (resigning), it was just a vote of no confidence.’

He said any handover would be carried out so as not to ‘disrupt the association’ and added: ‘The paramount is the Conservative Party.’

It’s understood his deputy Paul Hartley and treasurer Alistair Thompson have resigned.

But Former Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond said: 'They need to honour their decision.

'They said very clearly at the beginning of the meeting if there was a vote of no confidence they would resign and we're expecting them to resign shortly.'

Councillor Luke Stubbs said: 'At the start of the meeting the president stated it was agreed by all that in the event of a no confidence vote the officers would resign as requested to by the petitioners.

'It's a sad situation that people have considered this meeting to be necessary – it's done now, we need to move forward and rebuild the party.'

Councillor Steve Wemyss was pushed from his position at the association – a move that saw Tory members voting that they had no confidence in one of their own councillors who was elected to council office on a party slate.

Such was the strength of feeling that a Tory party member in her 90s was reportedly brought into the emergency meeting, and a whip-round was held when it was found her membership had lapsed.

The collected cash – raised by supporters backing the vote – was paid in and her membership was refreshed by a representative from Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) so she could vote.

It comes at a time when two Conservative councillors, Cllr Jennie Brent and Jim Fleming, have quit the Tory group on the council and become independents.

Cllr Brent’s Tory councillor son, Ryan Brent, has been deselected by the Portsmouth South Conservative Association after another candidate was selected to fight for his ward seat in the next election.