Controversial East Midlands MP defects to Reform UK

Lee Anderson at the Reform UK press conference

The strange political journey of Ashfield MP Lee Anderson has continued after he defected to Reform UK.

The controversial former coal miner, Labour councillor, Conservative Party deputy chairman and Tory MP for Ashfield was suspended from the Conservatives after he claimed on GB News – a channel he also works for – “Islamists had got control” of London and its mayor Sadiq Khan.

On Monday morning (March 11), Anderson, who has lost the Tory whip, joined Richard Tice’s Reform UK party in the run-up to the next General Election. He is the party’s first MP.

Paul Oakden, chief executive said the move was a “significant development” moment for his party.

At a hastily-arranged press conference, Tice, introducing Anderson, said: “This is a serious, medium-term plan. We want to replace the Tories in the Red Wall. We want a no-nonsense, no waffle person and I have found that champion of the Red Wall – a man of great integrity.”

In a meandering, often tetchy speech, Anderson said: “I want my country back. I don’t expect much in politics other than to be able to speak on behalf on my family and constituents. My opinions aren’t controversial, but shared by millions of people.

“It’s not controversial to be concerned about immigration, the hate marches and the street crime or to fight back in the culture war.

“I’m proud of our great country. We’ve always punched above our weight, but we’re giving away our way of life. We’re giving up our streets to people who hate our way of life. As I said at the beginning: I want my country back.”

Tice said he would be “surprised” if more MPs from other parties didn’t join Reform UK before the General Election.

Meanwhile, Ashfield District Council leader, Jason Zadrozny, who is standing against Anderson as an independent at the next General Election, said: “Ashfield people do not want the continuing soap opera of Lee Anderson. Lee Anderson has been an accident waiting to happen for the Tories – but he sleeps easy at night as he carries out the end of his car crash of a career in a £100,000 job a year with GB News.

“The people of Ashfield deserve better. If Lee Anderson truly cared about local people then this announcement would have been his resignation.”