“IF YOU go over the last nine years when Phillip (Lee) has been here, what has Phillip delivered for the Bracknell constituency?

“I can’t remember anything.”

That’s the verdict from Gerry Barber, chairman of the Bracknell Conservative Association (BCA), after Bracknell MP Dr Lee quit as a Conservative MP to join the Liberal Democrats.

The chairman has had a busy week since Bracknell’s MP switched party allegiances, having been interviewed by the Washington Post and contacted by former MPs and ministers about the vacant parliamentary candidate seat for the Conservatives.

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Three members of the BCA quit the party in the same week Dr Lee defected, but Mr Barber told the News “our net numbers are up from March this year” and that most members were “pleased” he had left the group.

Reflecting on Bracknell’s turn in the spotlight, Mr Barber told the News Dr Lee told him about his decision to switch to the pro-EU party one minute before he crossed the floor in front of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Mr Barber said: “Naturally it came as a bit of a shock when he walked the floor.

“What hurt, having built up that relationship with him, and being told ‘no I am not joining the Lib Dems’, and then to go and join the Lib Dems… you feel as if you’ve been lied to.

“The decision to join another party is not a spur of the moment decision.”

Despite the BCA’s offices being one floor below Dr Lee’s constituency offices, Mr Barber has had no contact with the Bracknell MP in the week since his defection.

This followed an entire summer period without contact between the party’s chairman and the MP after BCA members voted no confidence in their MP in June.

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Mr Barber believes Dr Lee would not have secured the BCA’s re-adoption as their parliamentary candidate even if he not joined the Lib Dems, and the chairman told the News he knew the “writing was on the wall” for the MP’s future in Bracknell around the time he quit as a junior justice minister in June 2018.

A new post for the vacant position is to be created soon, with Conservative members set to be invited to send their CVs to the BCA before they are reviewed by a selection panel and then voted on by the body’s executive committee.

Ardent remainer Dr Lee quit the Conservative Party over Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans, something which angered many leave-voting constituents.

When asked whether the next Conservative parliamentary candidate for Bracknell needed to be a Brexiteer, Mr Barber replied: “What’s important is they support the policy of Brexit, whether that be with a deal or no deal, they have to support the government line.

“Would we go for an out-and-out Brexiteer? I’m not so sure. I don’t think that would be right for the constituents of Bracknell.

“We have to remember while this constituency voted on estimate more than 50 per cent for Brexit, that was three years ago.

“People have changed their minds on both sides.

“My wife was very much remain, but now she thinks, ‘just get it done.’”

Mr Barber added that “Brexit has broken relationships” and this meant the BCA told Dr Lee to stay away from Conservative campaigning at May’s local elections as candidates wanted to focus on local issues rather than Westminster’s problems.

Despite his switch, the BCA chairman believes Dr Lee “is still a Conservative at heart” but concerns about his ability to be a “community MP” had always been commonplace for Mr Barber.

The Chairman claimed he knew of one constituent who did not receive a response to a letter they wrote to the MP’s office for more than six months.

More important than the next MP’s Brexit position is their willingness to be a community MP, according to Mr Barber.

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He said: “As we move forward, what we want to see is somebody who is a good community MP.

“I have no objection to people wanting to seek high office, but the should not be the reason to become an MP.

“They are becoming an MP to serve their constituents.

“It is about making sure we have a candidate that can talk to all parts of the constituency.

“It should be somebody who’s seen across the community – you might not be of the same political persuasion – but you go, ‘I respect this guy because he does something for us’ – that’s what we’ve missed for nine years.”

Dr Lee's office has been contacted for comment.