THE Tory leader of Thurrock Council has resigned and joined the Labour party.

Councillor Terry Hipsey told a stunned full council meeting that he was resigning as leader of the Conservatives and joining the opposition.

The meeting was immediately adjourned, while discussions about a new leader were held.

In a statement Labour’s newest councillor said: “I have resigned as leader of Thurrock Council, and have left the Conservative party to become a Labour councillor. This last week has shown some of the worst examples of David Cameron’s attempt to respond to the recession.

“I’ve spent the last two-and-a-half years trying to keep this dysfunctional Tory group together. Having some time to reflect, it has become clear this group and the Conservative Party are incapable of making the changes necessary to take Thurrock forward.

“I’ve been increasingly impressed with the group of Labour councillors locally and the Labour government’s response to the recession nationally.

“I look forward to working closely with our local Labour MPs, Andrew Mackinlay and Angela Smith. They, like me, care deeply about giving Thurrock families the help that they need during this global recession.”

In a press conference last week Mr Hipsey said he had no intention of quitting and rumours that he was being forced out by Conservative central office were unfounded.

He hit out at the borough’s Labour group, which was proposing to put forward a motion calling for his resignation.