Ukip group deputy leader on Essex County Council quits party after getting ‘squeezed’ between rival EU campaigns
2 hrs ago / James Dwan, Chief Reporter / @JamesDwan
A HARWICH town councillor and deputy leader of the UKIP group at County Hall has quit the Eurosceptic party following rows between rival campaigns to leave the EU.
Andy Erskine, of Gordon Road, Dovercourt, said he had been caught between the bickering Vote Leave and Leave EU/Grassroots Out campaigns.
He has now decided to quit UKIP altogether and will sit as an independent at Harwich Town Council, where he represents the West Central ward, and will join the non-aligned independent group at Essex County Council, where he represents Tendring Rural East.
The Leave EU campaign, launched by wealthy UKIP backer Arron Banks, is the preferred choice of Ukip leader Nigel Farage, but Clacton MP Douglas Carswell is supporting the cross-party Vote Leave campaign.
“The main reason I’m leaving is because the official UKIP line is to follow the Grassroots Out campaign,” said Mr Erskine.
“I follow Douglas and have done for some time, at least 12 years, and he supports the Vote Leave campaign.
“It is really causing so many issues between council members at district level and further up – and I’m getting squeezed.
“I can’t be seen to take sides, but as an independent I will be supporting both until the moment one of the other is chosen to be the official ‘out’ campaign’.
“The problem has been that I can’t be seen to be on one side or the other without causing friction or getting grief from Tendring UKIP members.”
Nigel Le Gresley, leader of UKIP at Essex County Council, said he was sorry to lose Mr Erskine from the group.
He added: “Andy has been a superb member of both Ukip and the group, and he has added very much to the body of work we have been doing to get a referendum and put the message out that our community is so much better out of the EU.”
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