Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Portsmouth UKIP councillor defects to Conservatives

Steve Hastings Image copyright Portsmouth City Council
Image caption In 2011, Steve Hastings stood as a Conservative candidate in the Chichester council elections

A Portsmouth UKIP councillor has defected to the Conservatives, having previously been a Tory member for more than 30 years.

Steve Hastings joined the city's UKIP group in 2013, ahead of European elections, and became its deputy leader.

In 2011, he stood as a Tory candidate in the Chichester district council elections.

He said: "The best hope for a European referendum now lies with the [Tories]."

Mr Hastings said a referendum was a "locked-in" promise from Prime Minister David Cameron.

'Protecting borders'

"He knows it has to happen and the sooner he puts a date to that the better," he said.

"I don't want to be governed and controlled by Brussels.

"If the public vote yes, then I can go with it and support it, but until we've had the referendum I can't run with that, I cant accept it."

Mr Hastings said his defection was "by no means a reflection" on his UKIP colleagues or group, and was not as a result of a "falling out".

In a letter to Portsmouth City Council, on his resignation from the UKIP group, Mr Hastings added: "I feel strongly about protecting Britain's borders and ensuring we have tighter border controls and lower managed levels of immigration."

Colin Galloway, Portsmouth's UKIP group leader, described Mr Hastings defection as "a surprise and a disappointment".

Last May, UKIP saw six councillors elected in Portsmouth. However, Paul Godier quit the group in January to become an independent, and following Mr Hasting's departure there are four remaining.

Asked whether he expected any further defections, Mr Galloway said: "That'll be up to councillors and their conscience."

Portsmouth City Council remains under no overall control following Thursday's elections. The Conservatives are five seats short of a majority.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites