Exclusive: Former Tory leader quits party over Brexit
Andrew Marshall led the Camden Conservatives for four years - but will now sit as an independent
15 February, 2017 — By Richard Osley
THE former leader of the Tories in Camden this evening quit the party, citing the party’s position on Brexit for pushing him over the edge.
Writing exclusively in tomorrow’s New Journal, Andrew Marshall explains his decision to become an “independent” councillor and cut the number of seats the Conservatives hold at the Town Hall to 11.
“I simply don’t feel comfortable any more in a party where most are genuinely enthusiastic, even triumphalist, about Brexit, while many of the rest have capitulated and call for unity as they stare at the Emperor’s new clothes,” he says.
Cllr Marshall, who has served a combined 24 years at the Town Hall, was one of the council’s most passionate pro-European Union voices at last year’s referendum. He reacted to the result by announcing he would not be seeking re-election at next year’s boroughwide elections.
Ironically, the Conservatives are expected to field candidates in his Swiss Cottage ward who are in favour of Brexit.
Asked what he would do next, Cllr Marshall said he would not stand for another party or as an independent. For his final 12 months at Judd Street – starting with an all-member meeting scheduled for later this month – he will take his seat in the corner of the council chamber next to Camden’s other independent councillor, Angela Pober, who broke from Labour in a dispute over library cuts in 2015.
Cllr Marshall, a former parliamentary candidate, became the leader of Camden Conservatives in 2006 when his predecessor, Piers Wauchope – now a Ukip councillor in Kent – lost his seat in Belsize. The Tories formed a power-sharing pact with Liberal Democrats.
Despite having fewer councillors, they were able to take control of the environment and education briefs, while Cllr Marshall was deputy council leader.
But the balance of power shifted again in 2010, when Labour won back control and Cllr Marshall stepped down and became a backbencher.
He has said he remains committed to his role of councillor and will work alongside Tory councillors in Swiss Cottage. But he adds: “Whether the new phalanx of Conservative local candidates, many enthusiastic for Brexit and involved in Andrea Leadsom’s leadership campaign, will find north-west Camden fertile territory, time will tell.”