A former council leader has blasted his old party after switching sides to launch a bid to become one of the MPs for the area.

John Halsall, the former Conservative leader of Wokingham Borough Council, has switched to the Reform UK party in his bid to become the MP for Beaconsfield.

Mr Halsall was at the helm of Wokingham Borough from 2019 to 2022, the same year the Conservatives lost control of the council for the first time in 20 years.

He has now blasted his former party in his biography on the Reform UK website.

Mr Halsall said: “I am a conservative … I believe in small government, enterprise, ambition, the individual, compassion, low taxation, competence, the rule of law, freedom, personal responsibility, free market economics, fiscal responsibility, sovereignty, and the Union.

“I am extremely honoured at being born an Englishman, with a long proud history and the vales of tolerance, compassion, and patience. I am a strong Brexiteer, who campaigned extensively.

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“Sadly, there is nothing conservative nor Unionist about the Conservative party in Westminster nor has there been for some considerable time. They are just Lib Dems in another guise – big government, loads of intervention on personal freedom, a strongly woke agenda, abandonment of Ulster, Gibraltar, high taxation, partial reversal of Brexit, and worst of all incompetence.

“The Labour Party will be worse.”

Mr Halsall currently lives in Remneham, Berkshire, and is married with three grown up children.

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In further swipes at his former party, he said: “The Tories have broken Britain. Labour will bankrupt Britain. A vote for either is a vote for more incompetence, dishonesty, and defeat. There is an alternative. The British people have a rational, fresh and untainted choice in Reform UK.”

Mr Halsall represented the Wargrave, Remenham and Ruscombe ward for 13 years, retiring from Wokingham Borough Council ahead of the 2024 elections, where the political map of the borough was redrawn.

During his time as leader of Wokingham Borough, he faced the coronavirus pandemic, Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Wokingham, and the completion of major road projects in the area including the North Wokingham Distributor Road and the Shinfield and Arborfield relief roads.

Wokingham Borough Council also engaged in ongoing projects such as Carnival Pool and the Wokingham town centre regeneration, and the completion of the new Bulmershe Leisure Centre.

The area Mr Halsall is hoping to represent, the Beaconsfield constituency, covers the eponymous town, Marlow, Burnham, Farnham and Iver.

The Beaconsfield MP seat is currently held by  Joy Morrissey, a Conservative. Ann Crabtree was selected as the Liberal Democrat candidate in November 2022.

A Labour candidate for the constituency has not been selected yet.