“WE will be back” is the message Garry Hague, now ex-leader of Thurrock Council, wants the people to know.

In an in-depth interview with the Gazette, the ousted leader also called for defected Tories Anne Cheale and Stuart St. Clair-Haslam to “do the decent thing and step down”.

We asked him how he feels about the Labour administration, which took over from his Tory group last week, being propped up by two former Tory group members and BNP councillor Emma Colgate.

He said: “The people that have done this have put themselves and their own interests above their residents and above their own political party. I just don’t understand it.”

So what is his take on how Labour gained power?

He said: “They have cheated democracy. The people clearly voted for more Conservative councillors and they wanted the same for the council.”

With Cllrs Cheale and St Clair Haslam blaming him for their defections, we asked why had he not stepped down when Cllr Cheale tabled a vote of no confidence against him earlier this year?

“It is not for me to say, it is a decision for the group. We had a good year of improvement and its been recognised externally. Thurrock was just starting to build a very positive reputation again.

“It is galling, the group and I have done a very good job and it’s been recognised outside the council. I have lots of residents saying they voted for a Conservative council and now that’s not the case.

“I have never thought about stepping down.”

Now in opposition, will the Tories still be driving towards the same goals?

He said: “We will be a very vigorous opposition, we are very positive about what we have done and about getting back control of Thurrock. We hope it won’t be too long before we are. I think the coalition set up is very unstable.”

I also asked him if he was surprised when Cllr St Claire Haslam defected from the Tories two weeks ago to form the Thurrock Concerned Conservatives with new mayor Anne Cheale.

He said: “Stuart had a troubled time on planning, but I did support him. I was surprised when he jumped ship.

“He should have spoken to me if he had any problems. We will be taking steps to make sure Anne Cheale and Stuart St Clair Haslam are no longer members of the Conservative party.”