A PARLIAMENTARY candidate for Chester claims he was forced to resign from UKIP for supporting gay marriage.
Richard Lowe, of Brook Street in Chester, posted his resignation from the party on social networking site Facebook on Thursday (January 10) night.
The 28-year-old said he had been forced out of the Chester branch after writing a public letter supporting the Government’s plans to introduce same sex marriage, saying he preferred to call them ‘equal marriages’.
Mr Lowe’s – who believes he was pushed out by powers higher up the party – resignation comes less than two months after he was selected to challenge Conservative MP Stephen Mosley, in a bid to become UKIP’s first MP for the city.
Speaking to the Chronicle Mr Lowe, whose campaign motto was ‘Aim High: Vote Lowe’, said he had been called into a meeting with the local party chairman and told they could no longer support him because of his views on gay marriage.
“They had concerns over me because of three particular policies,” said Mr Lowe, who said the local party had disagreed with his views, including pro-immigration, legalising prostitution and drugs, on top of the fact he did not join the party just to fight Britain’s membership to the EU.
“They basically said in light of my letter they couldn’t offer me any support or campaign for me as a general election candidate. I had to stand down, without any support or anything it is kind of pointless.”
Mr Lowe, who was just 23-years-old when he was elected as the first Cheshire West and Chester Council elections in 2008, said the letter had been the ‘final straw’ but he had wanted to be honest with his supporters about his opinions on gay marriage.
“Ever since I entered politics I have always tried to be honest, if people do not want to vote for me then that is their choice,” said Mr Lowe, who jumped ship from the Conservative party to UKIP in April 2011.
Mr Lowe added he had been told his resignation had been forced in from powers higher up in UKIP, who now consider gay marriage a ‘flagship’ policy, which he said was ‘ridiculous’.
The news comes just days after UKIP youth chairman Olly Neville was sacked for supporting gay rights, something Mr Lowe says made him reconsider his role as a candidate in the party.
Chairman of the Chester UKIP branch, Peter Lowe, of no relation, denied the call for Mr Lowe to resign was from further up in the party, saying the action had been from local party officials following concerns Mr Lowe’s tweets showed he was not ‘wholeheartedly’ supporting UKIPs core policies.
“Party officials expressed the view that they were unable to support his candidacy whilst Richard was posting 'tweets' on a number of issues which appeared to contradict party policy.
“Richard resigns with our best wishes for his future career whether it be inside or outside of politics.
Mr Lowe, who received more than 700 messages of support after he posted his shock resignation on Facebook and Twitter on Thursday night, said he had already been approached by rival parties asking if he would consider joining them.
“It is 50/50. Part of me feels fed up over it,” said Mr Lowe, who said he might stand as an independent candidate in the future.
“I am just going to try and get through the next few days, but it is a shame it has come to this.”