A FORMER Conservative parliamentary candidate for Wrexham has caused a shock after revealing he is not supporting his successor’s bid to become MP.

Andrew Atkinson, who sits on Wrexham Council’s ruling executive board, raised eyebrows after he told BBC2’s Politics Live programme on Thursday that he had not been out campaigning on Sarah Atherton’s behalf.

The Gresford councillor previously stood on two occasions against Wrexham’s former Labour MP Ian Lucas.

Despite coming second in 2015 and 2017, he narrowed the gap between the two parties to around 1,800 votes.

However, both men announced they would not be contesting next month’s election.

The Leader:

Former Conservative parliamentary candidate for Wrexham, Andrew Atkinson, stood on two occasions against former Labour MP Ian Lucas

During the interview, Cllr Atkinson did not indicate his reasons for failing to back his party’s new candidate, who sits alongside him on Gresford Community Council, but said he had been helping to canvass for Tory nominees in other areas.

He told the BBC: “I’m not on the doorstep in Wrexham at the moment, I’m helping candidates elsewhere in the country.

“It’s not a campaign I’m supporting, I can only speak for myself.

“I’m helping candidates elsewhere because I’m helping people where I really want to see them elected and they will make a strong difference locally.”

Cllr Atkinson also disputed claims in Ms Atherton’s campaign leaflet that she had worked closely with local councillors to address infrastructure concerns in Wrexham, including traffic measures on the A483.

Ms Atherton said she was “surprised and saddened” by his comments, but did not wish to comment further.

The Leader:

Sarah Atherton is the Conservative party candidate for Wrexham at the general election

The former nurse was previously involved in a row with another senior Conservative on the local authority after she described the state of Wrexham town centre as “depressing”.

In a letter published in The Leader newspaper in July, she highlighted anti-social behaviour issues and criticised the town’s ruling administration, which is run by independents and Tories, for failing to address the situation.

Conservative group leader Hugh Jones hit back by accusing her of “political opportunism” and not offering any solutions.

He said: “The recent contribution from Ms Atherton on her views on Wrexham town centre smacks of political opportunism of the worst form.

“I note that Ms Atherton offers no solutions and appears to have no ideas.”

Voting to choose Wrexham’s next MP will take place on Thursday, 12 December.

The full list of candidates standing in the area is as follows:

  • Conservative – Sarah Atherton
  • Brexit Party – Ian Berkeley-Hurst
  • Plaid Cymru – Carrie Harper
  • Green Party – Duncan Rees
  • Liberal Democrat – Tim Sly
  • Labour Party – Mary Wimbury