A former Arun District councillor, who quit the Conservatives earlier this year, has announced his hopes become the MP for Chichester, standing for the Brexit Party.
Trevor Bence, from Aldwick, sat on Arun District Council for 12 years and was also the cabinet member for residential services until he resigned after losing his seat in May’s local elections.
The former businessman said he had hoped to remain a councillor and continue his work in homelessness reduction, a topic he is passionate about.
“I genuinely believe that I was making a difference locally,” he said.
But in a historic defeat, the Conservatives lost their long-standing control of the council in May, going from holding 42 seats to 21.
Mr Bence said the public had made their ‘discontent’ clear and said that the success of the Lib Dems in the area, where the majority of residents voted to leave the EU in 2016, proved it was ‘a protest vote’.
“The Brexit issue was the overriding reason,” he said.
He said the public felt they were not being heard and that the referendum vote had been betrayed.
“I listened, and it changed my world,” he said. “I no longer want to represent a party that doesn’t live up to expectations and the promises it makes.”
He resigned from the Conservatives and began researching the Brexit Party, becoming 'impressed' by what he found. He decided to join and now plans to represent the party at the next general election.
“I can’t find a happier home other than the Brexit party,” he said. “I want to believe that politics and democracy still work.
“I’m sick to the back teeth about the current situation, as most of the public are.
“Our MPs in London do not want to live up to the democratic will of the people.”
While he would not reveal how he voted in the referendum, Mr Bence, who once lived in Spain, described himself now as a ‘staunch Brexiteer’.
“I’m not anti-Europe,” he said. “I’m anti the anti-democratic way the current group of MPs are behaving.”
When asked about the impact of Brexit, he said that ‘of course’ there would be ‘difficulties’ in leaving the EU.
“I think we would be foolish to deny there would be problems,” he said. “But I would much rather have that than stay in Europe against the will of the public.”
In terms of negotiating any future trading agreements, he said: “Some of them have forgotten to sell what we have and what’s best about the UK.
“I think its about time that people get out there and learn how to sell again.
“There’s a bigger opportunity than we are currently accepting.”
Despite the new government’s insistence on leaving the EU 'do or die’ by October, Mr Bence said he would not be tempted back into the party fold.
“There is absolutely no way I would support the Conservatives again,” he said. “I genuinely believe in my heart that they have let down democracy.”
He said he had 'no idea' when a general election would be held, but said that if he were voted in, there was ‘a whole raft’ of things he wanted to achieve for Chichester – including better services, better roads and a focus on law and order.
Mr Bence is not the first former Tory from the area to change allegiance to the Brexit party.
Viral Parikh, who represents the Bourne ward in Chichester on West Sussex County Council, also quit the Conservative party and now hopes to become an MP more than 300 miles away, standing for the Brexit Party in Sunderland.
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