A PAINSWICK county councillor who quit the Conservative party has joined the Liberal Democrats instead.

Councillor Keith Rippington (Bisley & Painswick) announced his decision to resign from the Tory party on September 9, saying it was "very right wing".

And today, he has announced that he has joined Gloucestershire Lib Dems.

Mr Rippington, who described himself as "a lifetime supporter of the Conservative party", had backed the group for 50 years.

He said he left the group over the party’s approach to Brexit and its shift to the “extreme right”.

Following a brief spell as an independent, he has joined the Liberal Democrats, which he said is the only party “representing what is in the best interests of the country.”

He was elected in 2017 with 50 per cent of the vote.

Commenting on the switch to the Liberal Democrats, Mr Rippington said: “I have been a supporter of the Conservatives for more than half a century, yet the party I look at now bears no resemblance to the one I joined.

“I have instead decided that the best way I can serve the residents of Bisley and Painswick is to join the one party that truly understands the perils of Brexit and that is standing up for the best interests of Gloucestershire’s citizens.

“I also believe in the Liberal Democrats’ message on the climate emergency, on youth engagement and working across party lines for the good of the county.

"I look forward to continuing to work for my electorate, focussing on the key issues that affect their daily lives.”

Leader of Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats, Cllr Paul Hodgkinson said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Keith to our party.

"It takes a brave and principled individual to walk away from something that has been a part of your life for so many years, and I applaud him for that.

"He is an incredibly hard working councillor, and will make an immediate impact within our group.

“We would welcome all councillors who similarly want to change the direction that this country is going, and ask them to join us to make Gloucestershire a more equal, greener place to live and work with top notch local services.”

Mr Rippington's addition to the Liberal Democrat county council group puts them at 15 councillors.