Lib Dem quits to join Brexit Party in Rochdale

Thursday, July 11th, 2019 11:00am

By Nick Statham (Local Democracy Reporter)

A Liberal Democrat councillor has stunned her colleagues by quitting to join The Brexit Party – just six months after defecting to them from Labour.

Coun Kath Nickson now says the Lib Dems’ staunch pro-remain stance goes against her beliefs.

It makes her the second Rochdale councillor to defect to Nigel Farage’s pro-leave party, following former Labour councillor Alan McCarthy’s recent decision to jump ship.

The Brexit Party now has a recognised group on Rochdale council for the first time in its brief history.

Coun Nickson – who represents Balderstone and Kirkholt – says she could not back the Lib Dems’ position on UK membership of the EU.

She said: “The national Lib Dem policy of remaining in the European Union is against what I believe in. 

“Three years ago we voted, as a country to leave the EU.

Kathleen Nickson, cropped

“This democratic decision – having been made – has not been honoured by the Tory government and we are now, I believe, facing either a no deal Brexit or not leaving at all. 

“The first will be catastrophic for jobs, the second catastrophic for democracy.”

Coun Nickson added that she felt duty-bound to back Brexit given the result of the 2016 referendum in Rochdale.

She said: “The number of people in this borough who turn out at elections is very low. If we can leave Europe and honour the result of the referendum, I can look my constituents in the eye. 

“They voted to leave and I am representing them in their decision.”

Coun Nickson left Labour in January claiming she was being ‘blocked from doing her job’ – while group leader Allen Brett said her relationship with the party had become ‘untenable’.

However, her surprise departure from the Lib Dems - while coming as a shock to the group – appears to have been less acrimonious.

Andy Kelly 1, cropped

“I have been treated in an outstanding way by the local Liberal Democrats. My colleagues, Irene Davidson, Dave Bamford and Andy Kelly are very decent people,” said Coun Nickson.

Lib Dem group leader Andy Kelly said: “It sounds like Coun Nixon is a little bit lost politically. She clearly had issues with Labour in Rochdale and a few issues with Lib Dem party politics. If she has found her political home, then I wish her all the best.”

Last week the former Labour leader of Rochdale council Colin Lambert also announced he had joined the Brexit Party – although he stood down as a councillor in 2016.

The political make-up of Rochdale council is now as follows:

Labour 45, Conservative 9, Liberal Democrat 3, independent 2, Brexit Party 1.


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