‘They will have to kick me out’ - Conservative pair defy leader’s resignation demand
PUBLISHED: 10:16 27 November 2018 | UPDATED: 14:33 27 November 2018
Two Conservative councillors have this morning refused to quit the party after their leader demanded they resign.
Hilary Cox and Nigel Dixon, Tory councillors on North Norfolk District Council, faced calls for their resignations from group leader John Lee after accepting seats on new Liberal Democrat leader Sarah Butikofer’s cross-party cabinet.
However the pair are digging in their heels over the matter and intend to remain members until further notice.
Mrs Cox, who accepted the portfolio for leisure, culture and licensing, said: “I do not feel I have done anything wrong. I think it is important somebody is there from the group and I am not going to resign.
“They will have to kick me out.”
Mrs Cox said she informed Mr Lee, former leader of the district council, of her intentions before accepting the post and that she was not present at the group meeting when the decision to boycott the cabinet was made.
She added: “I do not wish to resign. I am a Conservative. When I was asked to remain on the cabinet I thought it was an excellent way forward for everybody.”
Mr Dixon, who retained his economic development, business and tourism portfolio, also made it clear he would not be stepping down from the party.
He said: “The Conservative group is entitled to its view on whether it will support a cross-party cabinet and I am entitled to mine.
“So far there has not been a meeting of the group at which Hilary or I were able to express our reasons for accepting and until there is, I will not be resigning.”
Mr Dixon said he had accepted because he felt it was in the best interest of people of north Norfolk.
He added that the fate of the Egmere Business Park was also a big factor in his decision.
He said: “As portfolio holder I know the most about Egmere, therefore sitting on the cabinet is the perfect place for me to be about to help make sure the right decision is made - for the right reasons.”
Following the unveiling of Mrs Butikofer’s cabinet, Mr Lee emailed the pair calling for their respective resignations - an email seen by this newspaper.
In this he wrote: “Dear Nigel and Hilary. I have received confirmation that you have both agreed to join the cabinet.
“You are both perfectly aware that over the weekend our group decided we would not support a cross-party cabinet.
“Therefore, with great sadness I have to ask you to resign from the Conservative group.
“The voters of north Norfolk are being treated with utter contempt by this administration that has been foisted on them by self-serving councillors.”
Mr Lee served as leader of North Norfolk District Council for eight months, but his tenure came to an abrupt halt last week following a vote of no confidence tabled by the Liberal Democrat group on the council.
This saw Mrs Butikofer elected new leader, with her cabinet named on Monday.
Mrs Cox and Mr Dixon are experienced members of the council. Mrs Cox has been in post since 2011, is a former chairman of Norfolk County Council and was made an MBE for her services to local government. Mr Dixon was elected in 2007 and is also a county councillor.