Former beer importer to be Green Party's new speaker

A former beer importer from Essex will today be appointed to the top post in the Green Party. As principal speaker, Keith Taylor will be its figurehead, taking the public and media roles performed by the leaders of other parties.

Mr Taylor, the son of a bakery delivery man in Southend, built a business importing Belgian and Dutch beer before turning to Green activism full-time. He is leader of the Green group on Brighton Council, one of its strongest local authorities, and has been tipped to be its first MP after winning the country's highest Green vote in Brighton Pavilion at the last general election. He succeeds Mike Woodin, who died of cancer last month.

A Green spokesman said Mr Taylor, 51, who has two grown-up children, was a "down-to-earth guy" in a party which is widely seen as dominated by academics. Mr Taylor said: "I always thought I wasn't the sort of person who would join a political party, but then as a community activist I saw the Green Party was the only one doing the right job and asking the right questions."

He will share the principal speakership with Caroline Lucas, an MEP. The spokesman said: "In some respects Keith and Caroline are chalk and cheese, but what they have in common is they are excellent communicators for the Green Party and they earn respect and win elections on that basis."

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