A former Labour councillor is standing in Hastings and Rye as the Brexit Party’s general election candidate.
Conservative MP Amber Rudd retained her seat by just 346 votes, narrowly holding off Labour council leader Peter Chowney back in 2017.
In the run up to the next general election former Brighton and Hove city councillor Tom Bewick has been chosen as the Brexit Party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Hastings and Rye.
While on the authority he chaired the children, young people and skills committee, but left Labour earlier this year citing anti-Semitism, Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and Brexit.
Mr Bewick, who chaired the official Vote Leave campaign in Brighton and Hove, said he was ‘delighted’ to stand for the Brexit Party in Hastings and Rye, where the majority of voters backed leaving the European Union in 2016.
He criticised Ms Rudd for backing the ‘failed’ Withdrawal Agreement three times, which he argued would ‘deliver Brexit in name only’.
He added: “I will work tirelessly to gain the trust of voters in the constituency. I live in Sussex. My kids go to state schools. I am active in supporting local charities and I’ve shown through my business and professional life that I am someone with principles and integrity who can get things done.”
Currently Mr Bewick is chief executive of a national trade body representing the UK’s qualifications and examinations boards, having previously worked internationally as a skills development advisor, including supporting education projects in India, Afghanistan and the US.
He is an active member of Sussex County Cricket Club and travels across the country supporting his teenage son’s cricketing ambitions.
He grew up in foster care in the 1980s and during his time at the city council founded and is the chair of a charity which helps care leavers across Sussex live more independent lives.
After Labour’s landslide victory in 1997, he advised Tony Blair’s Government on education and employment policy.
Mr Bewick added: “My life’s passion is education. I believe that every child, young person and adult, should be given the chance to succeed in life, regardless of where they were born, or where they come from.
“The Tories have slashed funding in real terms to local schools; and East Sussex College has seen its 16-19 years old funding cut by 16 per cent, on average, since 2010. Adult and community learning has seen a massive 45 per cent cut, since this Conservative government took office.
“It is only the Brexit Party that wants to restore trust in our democracy. We see Brexit as a positive opportunity, as it will help secure proper investment in coastal communities like Hastings and Rye. Our call for a clean Brexit means our local fishing industry being out of the unfair Common Fisheries Policy from day one.
“We may be a new party, but I am really proud of the fact that we have already announced some meaningful domestic policies, like cutting the interest rates on student loans and ensuring digital connectively with free Wi-fi on all local public transport.
“I can’t wait to hit the campaign trail and find out more from constituents what they want from a Parliamentary candidate that they can trust. The whole point of the Brexit Party is that we are determined to change politics for good.”