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Folkestone councillor Claire Jeffrey quits Labour Party after Jeremy Corbyn re-election

A Labour councillor has defected to the Conservatives in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn's re-election as leader.

Folkestone councillor Cllr Claire Jeffrey, who is Jewish, announced she was resigning her membership at the weekend, saying she could no longer represent a party which "tolerates anti-Semitism".

It was today confirmed she has joined the Folkestone and Hythe Conservative Association.

Cllr Claire Jeffrey has quit as a Labour councillor citing she could not stand in a party which "tolerates anti-Semitism"
Cllr Claire Jeffrey has quit as a Labour councillor citing she could not stand in a party which "tolerates anti-Semitism"

Cllr Jeffrey, who represents the East Folkestone wards on both the town council and Shepway District Council, said she will continue to serve residents.

She describes herself as a proud Jewish councillor but could not represent a party which "tolerates anti-Semitism" adding it was "a hard decision but the right thing to do".

She spoke out on Twitter about suffering abuse for more than two years and having been spat on and her children left terrified.

Cllr Jeffrey announced she would be stepping down from Labour on Saturday following Mr Corbyn's landslide victory.

She said: "Enough is enough. Goodbye Labour but I will continue to work hard as a councillor to serve the people of East Folkestone."

"Enough is enough. Goodbye Labour but I will continue to work hard as a councillor to serve the people of East Folkestone" - Cllr Claire Jeffrey

Russell Tillson, secretary and treasurer of the Folkestone and Hythe Conservative Association, said: "Cllr Claire Jeffrey has indeed paid her subscription and is now therefore a member of the Folkestone and Hythe Conservative Association.

"I have on all those occasions I have met her in the past found Claire to be a delightful and courteous lady.

"I have every expectation that she will bring to the Conservative party passion, energy, good sense and a deep commitment to the service of her local residents.

"She is also a woman of considerable integrity as it takes a lot of guts to leave a political party."

She was the only Labour member on both the town and district councils after the elections in May 2015 and stood as the party's parliamentary candidate for the Folkestone and Hythe seat.

She came third behind Damian Collins (Con) and Ukip's Harriet Yeo.

Cllr Jeffrey is already facing calls to stand down altogether from local left-wing groups.

Her husband Dylan, who is secretary of the Folkestone and Hythe Labour Party branch, has also been told to resign his role over a "clear conflict of interest".

Socialist Party member Eric Segal called on Cllr Jeffrey to do "the decent thing and stand down as councillor".

He added: "She stood as a Labour Party candidate and has no right to treat the electorate with contempt.

"Her husband Dylan Jeffrey should also resign due to the clear conflict of interest."

The Folkestone and Hythe Labour Party has been approached for comment.

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