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Medway councillor Anne-Claire Howard quits Conservative Party amid 'shut-down' claims

By Dean Kilpatrick, local democracy reporter

A Medway councillor says she has resigned from the Conservatives as "forward-thinking members" of the party "keep being shut down".

Cllr Anne-Claire Howard announced she will sit the rest of her term as an independent, admitting not being reselected as a candidate for next year’s elections was the “final trigger”.

In a statement published today, the Twydall representative said she was told her deselection was due to “poor attendance to meetings and failure to actively campaign with the party”.

Cllr Anne-Claire Howard (Ind), Medway Council (5192599)
Cllr Anne-Claire Howard (Ind), Medway Council (5192599)

She wrote: “During that time, I went through two pregnancies and became the CEO of an international company.

"This was felt to offer no mitigating circumstances.

“I believe this sends a negative message to all working mothers – a demographic that the Conservative Party says it wants to encourage into politics.

“During my busy personal and working life, I have always made the residents of Twydall my priority.”

The French-born councillor – a vocal opponent of Brexit – also took a swipe at her former party by calling it “one of divisions and extremes”, steering “the country on a path towards isolation".

She added: “Forward-looking Conservatives keep being shut down.

"But we need to bring back the responsible and compassionate party which has all but disappeared as Brexit has taken centre stage.

“As a European national, a woman and a mother, I cannot remain a member of the Conservative Party as it stands today.”

Cllr Howard became the second Medway councillor to become independent in the space of a week, following Cllr Mick Pendergast’s decision to resign from Ukip.

Medway Council leader Cllr Alan Jarrett (Con) says he will not respond directly to the statement, but told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: "I have enjoyed working with Cllr Howard since 2015, and I wish her all the best for the future."

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