Brighton councillor Anne Meadows quits Labour over 'anti-Semitism'

Image caption,
The Conservative Party chairman said he was delighted to welcome Anne Meadows

Labour could lose control of Brighton and Hove City Council after one of its councillors joined the Conservatives in protest at anti-Semitic abuse.

Anne Meadows, whose husband is of Jewish descent, said she had suffered 18 months of attacks.

"There has been a lot of anti-Semitism going on in the city and that was aimed at me as well," said Ms Meadows.

Last July, she was deselected by Labour party members ahead of this year's local elections.

Ms Meadows said she would stand again in May as a Conservative.

"I am now firmly rooted in the Conservative party," she said.

The Tories are now the council's largest party and will try to form a minority administration.

'Driven out'

Ms Meadows, who has represented the Moulsecoomb and Bevendean ward for nearly 25 years, said the abuse "came to a head even in Labour group meetings where I would be attacked, and none of the other councillors would prevent it or halt it".

"I used to go home feeling awful and I thought there's got to be more than this, it's not the Labour party I knew and loved."

She added: "The last 18 months has shown to me that the new Momentum members [left wing campaign group backing Jeremy Corbyn] don't share Labour values.

"They don't have Labour traditional thoughts around common-sense policies for the good of the residents in the city.

"What I want is to do the best for the residents of my ward and the city, and only the Conservatives can take that forward."

The defection of Ms Meadows, 61, follows the resignation of eight Labour MPs, citing Labour's failure to tackle anti-Semitism and Mr Corbyn's leadership.

Prime Minister Theresa May told the Commons that Ms Meadows would be "welcomed with open arms", while Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis tweeted that he was "delighted".

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

He said she had been "driven out by the disgraceful anti-Jewish racism that runs through Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party".

The Conservatives were last in charge of the council eight years ago.

Responding to the decision, a regional Labour spokesperson said: "We are very disappointed to learn that councillor Anne Meadows has taken the decision to defect from Labour to the Conservatives.

"We want to thank Anne for her years of dedication and hard work.

"The Labour Party is committed to tackling anti-Semitism in all its forms wherever it arises, in our party and wider society."

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