A VICAR from the predominantly Leave voting area of the Forest of Dean has been selected to stand for the Brexit Party at the next General Election.
The Revd Sam Norton, who has previously spoken out in support of UKIP, is Vicar of Parkend and Viney Hill and assistant diocesan director of ordinands for the diocese of Gloucester.
He told his PCC and congregation last weekend of his selection, and said that there were “lots of smiles” after church on Sunday. One member of the congregation called him “the local Ross Poldark . . . going to Parliament to stand up for people”.
His Bishop — the Bishop of Tewkesbury, the Rt Revd Robert Springett — had been “lovely”, Mr Norton said.
Bishop Springett has issued a statement saying: “While we encourage all people to be engaged in the political process, the diocese of Gloucester does not endorse any political party, recognising there will be a spread of views across the Church and in our communities.
“I am grateful for Sam’s assurance that his political beliefs and ambitions will not be reflected in his ministry in his parish and wider diocese. This is something I would expect of all clergy as we seek to minister to all in our care.”
If he were elected, then he would have to resign his incumbency and his diocesan position. He is standing against the former minister Mark Harper, who at the last election, in 2017, won 54.3 per cent of the vote.
Mr Norton said that the political situation was “very fluid”, and that victory was possible. “If God wants me to do it, it will happen: if not, I will put it down to self-delusion.”
He joined the Conservative Party in 2016, and describes himself as a small “c” conservative, but said that his faith in the Conservatives had been dashed by lack of progress on Brexit, which had prompted him to consider moving to the Brexit Party. He said: “I thought I’d lay out a fleece — firstly about getting selected, and then about getting elected.”
In 2014, he wrote a blog post explaining his support for UKIP, which he now says he does not support or associate himself with. In the post, he defended the right of clergy to be active in politics.