A FORMER Labour chairman of Stroud District Council who defected to the Conservatives has been dumped by his new party.

Mark Rees has been ditched by the Tories after sharing a xenophobic and insulting Facebook post about Muslims by far right group the English Defence League (EDL).

Gloucestershire Conservatives have today announced they are withdrawing their nomination of Mr Rees for the Rodborough seat in next year’s county council election.

A spokesman said: “The Conservative Party deplores the stance of the EDL and will not tolerate statements of support for their views in any way, shape or form.

“We have investigated this matter thoroughly and it is clear to us that in this instance, a Facebook account has been used to promote and share statements made by the EDL.

“Those views are wholly incompatible with the views of the Conservative Party and as such, Mr Rees’ position as a candidate is untenable.”

The decision comes less than a month after Mr Rees, a former district councillor for Cainscross ward who then ran as an independent, was welcomed to the party as a new candidate.

He was reprimanded for sharing a joke about a Muslim woman and her son that was originally posted by the English Defence League (EDL), a controversial far-right protest movement which opposes the spread of Islamism in the United Kingdom.

Stroud News and Journal:

His personal Facebook account was also linked to various other EDL posts.

The post was quickly deleted and Mr Rees claimed it had been shared ‘by mistake’.

At the time he told the SNJ: “I am not a racist and I don’t endorse any kind of phobia.

“I am a Christian man and I will stand up for what I believe in. I have my values and my beliefs and they are important to me.

“If I honestly believe in something I’ll defended it. But I certainly do not defend this post. I do not agree with it.

“I don’t know how it was shared but it was an accident. I can’t even remember sharing the post. I have deleted it since.

“It wasn’t done deliberately with any malice or hatred. I am sorry if anyone was offended.”

At the time Labour councillors on Stroud District Council branded the post as “disgraceful” and “xenophobic”.

After it was reported to Neil Carmichael, he informed the Conservative group and it immediately suspended Mr Rees while an investigation took place.

Just weeks previously the MP had welcomed the former Labour politician into the Tory ranks.

Stroud News and Journal:

Born in Leonard Stanley, Mr Rees now 60, started his political career as a parish councillor in Randwick and Cainscross before moving to the district council and propelling himself to council chairman.

Last year he was not selected by Labour as a candidate to fight his seat in the SDC elections in May 2016.

He quit the party to stand as an Independent candidate and challenged his former colleagues, eventually losing out to Labour’s Jenny Miles, Rachel Curley and Tom Williams.

The SNJ has contacted Mr Rees for a comment.