A Conservative hopeful vying for a seat on Bracknell’s town council has been exposed as the former deputy leader of far-right group Britain First.

Andrew McBride, who was chosen by the Conservative Party to stand in next month’s Local Elections, also served as a regional organiser for the BNP and stood as a candidate in Bracknell local elections in 2007, it has been revealed.

He previously defended the British Nationalist Party, which supports the death penalty and a blanket ban on immigration, as “not racist”, saying: “we are not a racist party, colour or religion is not important to us, but we feel that British people are not getting enough access to housing and jobs.”

Mr McBride’s political background emerged last week after he was announced as Bracknell Forest Conservatives’ candidate for Priestwood. The news sparked a backlash from across the political spectrum with one Conservative councillor saying members were “angry and appalled”.

The Conservative Party has now suspended Mr McBride from the party but it is “too late” for him to be withdrawn from the election process, meaning he will still be their representative in the elections with the public still able to vote for him.

READ MORE: Things you should know ahead of all out Bracknell Forest Council elections 2023

Councillor Marc Brunel-Walker (Conservative, Crown Wood), outgoing executive member for economic development at Bracknell Forest Council,  said local Conservatives were “angry, disgusted and appalled” that Mr McBride had been selected.

He wrote: “I cannot begin to describe how angry, disgusted and appalled many Conservatives in Bracknell are. We are the Borough of opportunity, a fantastic place to live and work. He should never have been approved to stand Bracknell Conservatives.” 

Meanwhile, Dr Roy Bailey, chairman of the Bracknell Labour party said: “We believe that the local Tories have made a serious error of judgement and call upon them now to apologise to local voters for choosing a candidate with extreme right-wing and discredited views.”

He added: “He has a long history of involvement at the highest levels of far-right British politics and stood as a BNP candidate in the Bracknell Forest Council election on May 3, 2007.”

The BNP attracted controversy for the party’s opposition to Islam, immigration and advocacy of repatriation of non-European immigrants.

Furthermore, Mr McBride served as deputy leader of Britain First in 2014, evidenced in an article posted on that parties website.

Bracknell News: A picture, presumably of Andrew McBride, in an article he published as the deputy leader of Britain First. Credit: Taken from the Britain First website / The Way Back MachineA picture, presumably of Andrew McBride, in an article he published as the deputy leader of Britain First. Credit: Taken from the Britain First website / The Way Back Machine

Britain First was founded following a split with the BNP in 2011. It has faced accusations of Islamophobia.

He was recently selected by the Conservatives as their candidate for the Priestwood ward of Bracknell Town Council, despite his past in the BNP and Britain First, a fact not lost on their Labour rivals.

Dr Bailey called for James Sunderland, the Conservative MP for Bracknell and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to denounce Mr McBride’s selection.

A spokesman for Bracknell Conservative Association (BCA) confirmed they have suspended Mr McBride’s membership.

Gerry Barber, chairman of the BCA, said: “The BCA is aware of recent social media comment concerning local Town Council election candidate Mr. Andrew McBride. Having followed its internal process, the Association has today suspended Mr McBride’s membership pending a full investigation.

“We are now aware that it is too late to formally withdraw a candidate, however we can confirm that if elected Mr McBride would be denied the Conservative whip.

“To ensure that lessons are learnt for the future we have voluntarily asked the Regional Team to review the selections process relating to candidates standing for election in Bracknell.”

READ MORE: Labour win Bracknell Town Council by-election after big swing

Elections for Bracknell Town Council and Bracknell Forest Council take place on Thursday, May 4.

The BNP has not been officially dissolved, but has been declining since 2012.

Mark Collett, the former chairman of the Young BNP founded the political party Patriotic Alternative (PA) in 2019, with campaign group Hope Not Hate calling it “the largest and most active fascist movement operating in the UK today.”

PA’s attempts to get official recognition as a political party from the Electoral Commission have so far been unsuccessful.

Dr Bailey is a Labour candidate for the Central and the Parks ward of Bracknell Forest Council in the upcoming elections.