04:21PM, Thursday 11 April 2019
A South Bucks District councillor and former deputy chairman of the Beaconsfield Constituency Conservative Association has resigned from the party, accusing the ‘ideological hard-right’ of taking over.
Cllr Matthew Bezzant (Burnham Lent Rise and Taplow) also cited rising national homelessness and benefits system that ‘hits the most vulnerable hardest’ as reasons for leaving the party he joined seven years ago.
In his resignation letter, addressed to council leader Cllr Nick Naylor he said: “I believed (and still believe) that the country is at its best with a strong economy. However, a strong economy must never be prioritised over the welfare of its citizens.
“I once saw the Conservative Party as the party of ambition. I now see the party for what it is: a party with its sole focus on Brexit and a party that plunges people into poverty.”
Writing on Twitter today, Cllr Bezzant said he hoped to join The Independent Group, which has applied to establish itself as a political party called Change UK.
On social media he added: “The ideological hard-right from the ERG hold the reins of the party and moderates and progressives are no longer welcome.”
In his letter, he stressed that he was leaving the party due to national concerns, but went on to criticise local issues.
He said: “Locally, debate is stifled at the expense of having a ‘united voice’ at public meetings.
“Important policy issues that impact on people’s lives in Buckinghamshire should be debated in an open and transparent forum, yet decisions are taken behind closed doors with little accountability.
“It is clear to me that those with moderate and progressive ideologies are no longer welcome in the Conservative Party.”
He said he will continue to represent residents in his ward as an independent councillor.