Richard Barnes has torn up more than 30 years of links with the Tories to jump ship to Ukip.
He was first elected a councillor in the west London borough of Hillingdon in 1982 and went on to hold a series of senior positions in the capital, including serving as Boris Johnson’s deputy for four years.
He had an uncomfortable moment in the spotlight last year when naked pictures of him appeared on his Facebook page. The photographs were later removed and he said his account had been hacked.
Mr Barnes, who is gay, today dismissed claims that his new party was homophobic after a Ukip councillor blamed flooding in southern England on the vote to legalise same-sex marriage.
He said: “I’ll stand my ground against any prat. They are in all the parties. I don’t think they become homophobic the moment they join Ukip.”Reuse content