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New Reform UK MP Lee Anderson tours constituency with party leader

New Reform UK MP Lee Anderson has said Conservatives will have to “wrestle with their own consciences” about following him as he kicked off a tour of his constituency with his new party leader.

Mr Anderson, who defected to Reform after he was stripped of the Tory whip over comments about London Mayor Sadiq Khan, set off from the centre of Kirkby in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, on an open top bus with party leader Richard Tice.

At the first stop, in Selston, he was asked if more Tory MPs would follow him.

He told the PA news agency: “That’s up to them. I’m not putting pressure on anybody.

“They’ve got to wrestle with their own conscience on that one and do what they think is right by themselves.”

Mr Anderson said he still speaks to his former colleagues.

He said: “I’ve still got friends. You don’t lose your friends overnight – not your real friends anyway.”

Earlier, the MP spoke to shoppers from the top of the bright blue Reform bus in Morrisons car park.

Reform UK leader Richard Tice, left, joins former Conservative deputy chairman Lee Anderson MP as they campaign for their party in his constituency of Ashfield, Nottinghamshire
Reform UK leader Richard Tice, left, joins Lee Anderson as they campaign for their party in his constituency of Ashfield, Nottinghamshire (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

He said: “I love this place. I worked in the pit here, worked in the factories here.

“I know what you people think and say.

“When I come back on a Thursday from that madhouse in London and speak to people in the pubs and in Morrison and in the streets, they say to me ‘Lee, thank you, you’re saying what we’re thinking’.”

Mr Anderson said: “I want my country back.

“Successive governments have tried to give our country away over the years.

POLITICS Reform
(PA Graphics)

“I want it back. I love this country and I love you lot.”

At the second stop on the tour, in Sutton-on-Ashfield, Mr Anderson and Mr Tice both declared they were in the “capital of common sense”.

Mr Anderson said: “People watching this up and down the country will realise they have come to the capital of common sense.

“This a typical red wall area. This is where people speak plain English and are not afraid to speak plain English.

“It’s our job in places like Ashfield to speak up on behalf of the rest of the country.”

Reform UK leader Richard Tice, left, joins former Conservative deputy chairman Lee Anderson MP as they campaign for their party in his constituency of Ashfield, Nottinghamshire
Richard Tice and Lee Anderson on the open top bus (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr Tice laughed: “I love that – Ashfield: the capital of common sense.”

Mr Anderson walked around the town centre chatting with shoppers and posing with well-wishers who were largely supportive.

One man who shook him by the hand said: “What matters is the people Ashfield, not Question Time, on a left-wing channel.

“He’s the guy for us, he’s the best thing since sliced bread.”

But his visit to Sutton was marred by one woman who confronted him, shouting foul-mouthed insults as she followed him around the shopping area of the town.