What will the referendum result mean for UKIP? Many of its members may well conclude that the party has served its purpose and it is time to look for a political home elsewhere. I suspect the number will increase as arrangements for our departure become established.
In any event Cllr Alan Preest, hitherto the Leader of the UKIP Group on Gloucestershire County Council, has already taken the plunge. He has left UKIP to join the Conservatives.
He was elected in 2013 to represent the Lydney division. He also serves on Forest of Dean District Council, representing Lydney North and on Lydney Town Council. His decision means that the UKIP group at county level is reduced to two councillors, whilst the Conservative Group increases to twenty-five councillors.
Cllr Preest previously served as a Conservative County Councillor until 2008. He has officially joined the Conservative Party, and the county Conservative group, and is applying to rejoin the Conservative group on Forest of Dean district council.
“I’ve gone as far as I can as a UKIP councillor. With the referendum out of the way, UKIP doesn’t really have a point any more. I got into politics for one reason only – to do the best for Lydney and people who live here. I can do that job much better as part of a Conservative team. I will be applying to stand as a Conservative at next year’s county election.”
Cllr Mark Hawthorne, Leader of Gloucestershire County Council, added:
“This is a great example of how our country is beginning to pull together after the referendum. Alan Preest is an excellent local councillor, who does a fantastic job representing the people of Lydney – he will be a welcome addition to the Conservative team.”
Welcome home, Cllr Preest.