Steven Holmes is the Chairman of Carmarthen East & Dinefwr Conservative Association. This article reproduces an open letter to his members.

As an Association Chairman, I believe it is only open and honest to be upfront to my Executive and members as to why I have returned my postal vote for the Brexit Party.

There has been a lot of thought on my part for some time as to which way to vote.  As an Association Chairman, should I stick to the Party line; should I abstain on principle; should I use my vote as a proxy for my wish to leave the EU, and/or use it for a party that has been determined and forthright with its intentions to get the job done that 17.4 million people voted for – including myself.

Over the last month or so, I have spoken with local and senior members of the Party, listened to my Executive and been in communication by various means with the Party nationally.  I have written personally to the Prime Minister on behalf of our Association, clearly describing why this political situation is unsustainable and wholly unacceptable, and why only a change at the top can rescue any semblance of success in delivering Brexit.

I have put my signature to the open letter in a national paper last week (which stated the feelings of the voluntary party that a change at the top is needed), and have also added my name to the petition for the National Convention for the motion of no confidence in the Theresa May.  This Association is struggling to find activists willing to participate in any campaigning, all because of this Government’s destructive Brexit policy and leadership.

Furthermore, I have read the official literature & official press releases and listened to Conservative Party salaried staff, only to have my opinion strengthened that there is something inherently wrong with the leadership, structure, message and direction with regards to Brexit and, in particular, these European Elections.

We should clearly not be in this situation of fighting them, and the Prime Minister has failed to seize on the open goal of the March 29th departure date.  We were promised over one hundred times that we would be leaving on this date; promised that No Deal is better than a bad deal, and promised that the wishes of 17.4 million people would be delivered.

The Party continues to blame those MPs who didn’t vote for the deal (her deal).  I don’t support the deal, and don’t believe that I should be shamed into doing so.  I was brought up in Northern Ireland ,and have always been a supporter of the Conservative and Unionist Party, but the back-stop arrangement is contrary to our best interests and fear that the union and democracy are under threat.  To take No Deal off the table was an error of judgement and negotiations were flawed from the start.

They were choreographed by Remain-backing insiders who continue to dismiss the real heart of the Party (the members) and the people who voted to leave.  A shameful reflection on how our Party now operates that has continued for too long.  I believe that for every day longer Theresa May is in power, it is a day more that we are haemorrhaging votes and trust in the Party, and edging the door open for Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street (the process of attempting to do a deal with the far left was a step too far).

I have reached this conclusion with some reluctance, especially since I recognise the difficult task our Prime Minister has had in trying to extricate the UK from the EU after over 40 years of membership and honour her work and commitment in that endeavour.  Her resilience and strength should not be underestimated as she continues to run the country and make the difficult decisions necessary in Government.  We also of course, have four very able Conservative candidates here in Wales for the European Elections and urge you to read the piece on this site by our lead candidate, Dan Boucher.  I admire his belief and commitment to the Conservative Party cause, but ultimately I feel that I have been let down by the Party at a national level which has failed on every promise made so far.

I believe that failing to use my vote would mean an extra opportunity for the pro-EU parties – a vote wasted and something that I am most certainly against.  Brexit is what I voted for in the referendum, and Brexit is what I have voted for in these elections – not for the Prime Minister’s interpretation of it, or for continued empty promises.

Moving onward for a time after these elections, I believe that with the right person at the helm who can bring back trust (and deliver Brexit), and bring enthusiasm and direction within in the party (for members and voters), we can salvage a Party that can win the next election and save the country from a Corbynite agenda.  These decisions are not about the Conservative Party, but about a Parliamentary system that works for all, and a country that is pro-business and truly global in its outlook.

Finally, and to be clear, I have not given up on the Conservative Party (or the Association for that matter), but believe at the present time that the Conservative Party has given up on me.  We have a strong Prospective Parliamentary Candidate here, and I look forward to supporting his campaign in the future with the help of our members, and hope we can one day turn our constituency blue.

I look forward to positive changes and developments over the forthcoming weeks and months and trust that our democracy can be saved.