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Labour and Tories "weigh up grand coalition" to keep Ukip at bay
LABOUR and the Conservatives are considering joining forces in a bid to quash the Ukip surge.
The Gazette has been told senior figures in both the local Labour and Tory groups have spoken about the possibility of working together in the future, with an insider talking about the possibility of a “grand coalition”.
The source said the parties had anticipated a Ukip surge and were discussing the prospect of "teaming up" ahead of last week’s vote, which left both Thurrock’s main parties with bloody noses.
Since the election, Labour and the Conservatives have ruled out a pact with Ukip and the Gazette understands further talks are imminent.
One source said: “I’d lay my money on a grand coalition between Labour and the Conservatives.
“Talks have already taken place and more are planned.”
The Gazette understands the Conservatives will NOT demand it occupies senior roles within the council’s cabinet as part of the agreement.
Instead, it is expected the party will ask Labour to instead vote for a Conservative mayor at the annual council meeting on Wednesday, June 11, with the "coalition" then working on a "supply and confidence" basis, meaning the Tories will vote with Labour – or abstain – on motions and reports.
Following the dramatic elections, Labour lost overall control of the council.
The reds now have 23 councillors, the Tories 18, Ukip six and there are two independents who both represent East Tilbury.
Speaking after last week's dramatic count, Labour leader John Kent, said: “It’s been a really tough election and, clearly, Ukip have given a bit of a kicking to both the main parties.
“We need a period of reflection and to move forward in as mature a way as possible to ensure the council can deliver the best for residents in a very difficult time.”
Tim Aker, one of the most senior figures in the Thurrock Ukip group, said: “I would not put it past them doing a deal to get us out.
Concern - Labour leader John Kent looks on as Ukip oust two of his councillors
“We’re used to seeing such vitriol from the ‘legacy’ parties.
“You can’t put a cigarette paper between them.”
He added: “Whatever they do is their own concern.
“We will have a list of priorities for our residents.”
Tories - in background - look on disappointingly as Ukip members - in the foreground, smile at more success.
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