FORMER Stroud MP Neil Carmichael has left the Conservative party and joined the Independent Group instead.

Mr Carmichael, who stood as MP for Stroud from 2010 to 2017, said the reason for the move is 'values, and how they inform policymaking and behaviour'.

He said the defection had 'been in gestation for several years', but the Conservative party’s towards immigration and the recent Windrush scandal were key factors in his decision.

Announcing his intention in the online Independent newspaper, he said: "Protecting and enhancing individual freedom might be considered a Conservative value, but this is also about rights and, above all, how we treat people, including immigrants.

"The days when Edward Heath could invite 150,000 Ugandan Asians to the UK to save them from Idi Amin’s persecution and then highlight their contribution to our economy and society are, seemingly, well over within the Conservative Party.

“Today the Windrush scandal stands as a symbol of the Conservative approach to treating individuals”.

This ends the rivalry between Mr Carmichael and David Drew who have competed against one another, for the Stroud constituency, on five occasions.

Mr Carmichael held the Stroud seat for seven years. But after being ousted by Labour’s David Drew in 2017, he has decided to end his interest in the constituency.

He was opposed to Brexit prior to the 2016 EU Referendum, and is now the president of the Conservatives for a People's Vote campaign.

He is an active supporter of a second referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union, with the option to remain.