Conservative election candidate quits with warning that party has been ‘taken over by a cult’
Ben Seifert admits he voted for the Lib Dems while serving as a Tory candidate
07 September, 2019 — By Richard Osley
Ben Seifert had been selected for the party ahead of the London elections next year
A CONSERVATIVE election candidate quit today (Saturday) with a warning the party had been “taken over by a cult” at the top.
Ben Seifert, who stood in last year’s Camden Council elections and had been selected as a candidate ahead of next year’s London Assembly vote, admitted for the first time that he had actually voted for the Liberal Democrats at the European elections due to his growing concerns over how Brexit was being handled.
The lawyer said: “I voted for remain at the European referendum. I studied languages, I feel European and I remember the day after the referendum I was having lunch with a friend in Lincoln’s Inn and we were talking about what had happened and I just felt like I had lost a part of me. It was awful, it is awful.”
He added: “I stuck with the party with Theresa May’s deal. I thought it was a bit of a fudge but the country had voted to leave and I thought she was trying to get on with it. But as it went on, it just made me think more that there was no better deal than actually remaining in Europe. There isn’t one. In recent months, I’ve felt increasingly like the party has been taken over by a cult. I think somebody like Jacob Rees-Mogg gives the impression of wanting a no deal Brexit, and a no deal Brexit would be like jumping of a cliff. It’s crazy. I’m not sure what Boris Johnson wants apart from that he wanted to be Prime Minister.”
Mr Seifert had narrowly missed out on being selected for the Barnet and Camden candidacy for next year’s City Hall elections to Barnet councillor Roberto Weeden-Sanz but had later been chosen to stand in the North East London constituency.
“Part of where I have been campaigning is Chingford and Woodford Green where Iain Duncan Smith is the MP and if you read what he’s written in the Telegraph today, he’s talking about breaking the rule of law over Brexit,” he said. “The Conservative Party has become focused on just one thing: Brexit, at the expense of everything else. And I think the number of remainers in the party is dwindling. In next year’s election, there are so many things that Sadiq Khan should be challenged over and held to account for, but he is getting a free ride because the only thing that is being talked about is Brexit.”
Hard run: Ben Seifert taking on last year’s New York marathon
He added: “I’m ambitious but I would rather not be an MP than not be true to myself about how I am feeling. In May, I did actually vote for the Lib Dems at the European elections but of course I could not tell anybody about that at the time. The only way forward now for the country, I believe, is a second referendum with remaining in Europe as one of the options on the ballot paper.”
Mr Seifert had played a legal role in helping to save shop worker Stojan ‘Stoly’ Jankovic, who works for Natural Earth in Kentish Town, from a shock deportation. “My whole interest is human rights,” he said. “And the way Brexit is being handled just does not fit with that.”
He added: “I think it was [Michael] Heseltine who said that the issue of Europe was a cancer inside the Conservative Party. Brexit is a cancer which has now taken over the party.”
Asked whether he would be joining a different party after ending his membership today, Mr Seifert said that he had not decided.
“I want to stress that I have enjoyed working with the people who I have worked with in Camden,” he said. “They are hard-working people and I hope they will still speak to me after this. It is the people who have taken over the leadership of the party who I do not want anything to do with. It is a sad day but also I have a sense of relief because I am being true to myself.”
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