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Tory mayoral candidate defects to Reform UK

The Conservative candidate for the Manchester mayoral race has defected to Reform UK.

Dan Barker, who until now had also been the chairman for the Wythenshawe and Sale East Conservatives, was revealed on X as having made the move, as the former Brexit Party appealed for more supporters to get behind them.

It comes just six weeks before voters head to the polls in a range of local elections across the country – with Labour‘s Andy Burnham set to defend his role as Manchester mayor.

Politics live: Tory mayoral candidate defects to Reform

Mr Barker X account is full of support for the Conservatives, with a pinned post claiming the party delivers “lower council tax”.

And on Wednesday, he carried out an interview with the Manchester Evening News promising to “bring police under my control” if he became the Tory mayor of the city.

But in a statement, his new party said: “Reform is delighted that Dan Barker has joined us. He is an excellent candidate and will be a great representative for Reform and Manchester.

“He knows that today, if you believe in the future of this city, and this country, then Reform is to the future, as the Tories are to the past.”

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The defection comes after the former deputy chairman of the Conservatives, Lee Anderson, announced he would be joining Reform UK, having been ousted from his party after failing to apologise for comments he made about London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Sky News has contacted the Conservative Party for a response.

Sky News Source