Cllr Chris Wood is a Hampshire County councillor and Fareham Borough councillor, and was until recently leader of the UKIP groups on both councils.

I have been a UKIP Member for the last four and a half years.   I have met some fantastic people, had many laughs along the way and I believe we have accomplished a huge amount by helping to win the most important democratic vote that our country has ever participated in. I joined UKIP because I wanted the United Kingdom to leave the European Union and I am incredibly proud of the role that we have all played in securing this momentous achievement.

Many of the residents I represent will recognise that I am and always have been a conservative. At a local level the Conservative Party are investing hugely in our local infrastructure, in particular great strides have been taken to fund our absolutely essential Stubbington Bypass, which was at the centre of my campaigns to become a county and borough councillor.  Nationally under Theresa May the party will deliver Brexit, something which I have always called for. It is because of these commitments that I have chosen to step down as Leader of the UKIP Groups on both Hampshire County and Fareham Borough Council and re-join the Conservative Party.

I have not taken this decision lightly, there are many good and decent people in UKIP who I regard as friends, however I don’t believe in opposition for opposition’s sake. Many will recognise that UKIP has become toxified over the last 18 months through comments about HIV and AIDS among other issues such as Nigel’s un-resignation. In recent weeks an out of touch and unreformable NEC, Diane James’s 18 day stint as leader, and alleged violence in the European Parliament have been the final straw.

It is an exciting time for our nation. The Conservative Party will deliver Brexit and I wholeheartedly support May’s leadership. I look forward to working with fellow Conservative colleagues in Hampshire and Fareham, delivering our bypass in conjunction with Cllr Sean Woodward, Cllr Rob Humby and our MP Caroline Dinenage as well as continuing to work hard for the residents of Stubbington and Hill Head.

Locally, I have found both Hampshire County and Fareham Borough Council ably capable of coping with the reduction in government grant.  They have invested wisely and have been inventive in their methods to continue to deliver a high level of service. The government budget reductions to councils are incredibly challenging and I don’t actually think this is entirely appreciated by central government.  However, I have two options as a councillor: to shout from the sidelines, or to be actively involved in the decision-making process. I believe I can be most effective as an actively involved Conservative councillor working for the benefit of the residents I represent.

I am incredibly enthused by the Prime Minister.  She looks like Thatcher and sounds like Churchill. Brexit provides us with a massive opportunity as a nation to be outward looking, independent and to diversify our economy still further to ensure that we can maximise our growth through new and exciting technologies as they develop globally. May is committed to controlling immigration which has been a key concern of the British people for many years, she wasn’t able to as Home Secretary, but now as Prime Minister overseeing Brexit with a strong Cabinet supporting her I trust this issue will finally be resolved. The Conservative Party is the best party placed to deliver a successful Brexit for the United Kingdom and I am proud to be a member once more.