It’s not just in Westminster that leading Tories are leaving the party.

A former senior Conservative councillor has quit the party to join York Liberal Democrats.

Former York Conservative deputy leader Paul Healey, who served as a Tory councillor for eight years, has crossed to the Lib Dems.

Paul, who had been an activist for the Conservatives for 28 years, cited the party’s shift to the far-right for his decision.


He said:

  • Since the 2016 EU Referendum, the Conservatives have lurched to the far-right of British politics, squeezing out the space for moderate, liberal and pro-European Conservatives.

    Like many other people across the UK I have been appalled at Boris Johnson’s attempts this week to subvert parliamentary democracy and push through his hard Brexit agenda.”

    That is why I am delighted to be joining a united, tolerant and outward looking Liberal Democrat team here in York, buoyant from recent victories in the local and European elections, leading the campaign for Remain and standing up for communities across the city.

The city’s Lib Dem group leader Keith Aspden welcomed Mr Healey “as he brings a wealth of local experience to the team”.

The Conservative Party response

Chairman of the York Conservatives Matt Freckelton told YorkMix:

  • It has been some years since Paul was a councillor and nearly a decade since he was deputy leader.

    Further to this Paul was not a member of the Conservative Party at the time of his defection.

YorkMix understands that Paul Healey told the Conservative Councillor Approval Panel that if he were not approved as a candidate he would join the Liberal Democrats.

The Approval Panel decided it ‘could not allow itself to be held to ransom’ and so did not select him as a candidate.

Paul Healey’s letter in full

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Dear Sirs,

Having been a member of the Conservative Party, and an activist for the last 28 years, the political events over the last three years, and particularly the last week, have led me to become disillusioned with their policies and the party as a whole.

That is why I have taken the decision to leave and instead, join the Liberal Democrats.

In York, I spent a total of eight years as a Conservative Councillor in the city, including serving 3 years as the Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group.

However, during the 2016 EU Referendum, like many other Conservative voters, I decided to vote Remain.

Since the Referendum, the Conservative Leadership have lurched to the far-right of British politics, abandoning moderate, Liberal and pro-European members and voters such as I. Instead, they have become the new UK Independence Party, or the Brexit Party; attempting to subvert parliamentary democracy for their hard Brexit agenda.

It is clear that the Conservative Party no longer represent my views.

It is therefore with a sense of regret for the past but optimism for the future that I am delighted to be joining a united, tolerant and outward looking Liberal Democrat team here in York, buoyant from recent victories in the local and European elections, leading the campaign for Remain and standing up for communities across the city.

Kind regards,

Paul Healey