Cllr Stephen Harness represents Humberston and New Waltham on North East Lincolnshire Council.

I am pleased to announce that I am now a Conservative councillor.

I was first elected in April 2013, winning a by-election to become a UKIP councillor, and I was subsequently re-elected in 2014. I was also the Cleethorpes UKIP Parliamentary Candidate in the 2010 and 2015 General Elections.

My active interest in politics had been triggered by the European Union, a subject I researched extensively.

Obviously I am delighted with the result of the referendum. 

The European Union is not a democracy and this is not acceptable for a country like ours that has a democratic history written in ink derived from the acorns of English Oak.

As a UKIP ward councillor I have worked in my ward with Conservative Councillors John Fenty and Stan Shreeve, as well as Alderman Steve Norton who stood down in 2014. We have always worked closely for the benefit of the residents even though we were opponents in the Council chamber. I have witnessed firsthand the dedication and care of my now fellow Conservative colleagues for whom I have the highest regard.

I have also witnessed how the Conservative Group is led so effectively by Cllr Philip Jackson on the North East Lincolnshire Council. They form an effective opposition to the ruling Labour Group with an ambition to gain control.

The decision by David Cameron to hold the European Union referendum effectively burst the UKIP bubble and negated a possible UKIP breakthrough in the 2015 General Election.

I left UKIP in February of this year to become an Independent Councillor. I have never publicly declared why I left UKIP. Being independent enabled me to have my own individual ideas on the European Union referendum campaign and my preferred exit strategy for leaving the European Union.

So why join the Conservative Party? I salute the brave decision by the Conservative Party to grant a European Union referendum. Perhaps UKIP was instrumental in applying the pressure that resulted in a referendum but it was the Conservative Government that promised and delivered the referendum. That referendum is now history and attention is now focused on domestic issues as well as the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.

I have a social conscience but it is essential to build an economy that can deliver the finances to fund the NHS, welfare, education, and the armed forces, as well as investing in infrastructure. I believe the Conservative Party is best placed to deliver a modern country built on sound finances. Of course, huge challenges need to be overcome to balance the books and pay back debt.

I feel comfortable supporting Theresa May as prime minister and it is refreshing to hear a determination to build and support an industrial policy in a mixed economy. I am passionate about building a platform for British companies to flourish alongside inward investment. Leaving the European Union broadens our horizons to a global market of equal partners, an exciting prospect.