A FORMER Conservative councillor and one-time Brexit Party candidate is now campaigning for Scottish Labour, The National can reveal.

Paul Aitken served as a Tory politician in East Renfrewshire for just under a year after he was elected in 2017, and was put forward for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party as the prospective candidate for the area at the 2019 General Election.

He quit the Conservatives in 2018, complaining of a lack of internal party democracy, and faced calls from Labour at the time to resign his seat and stand for re-election to test his mandate.

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Now The National can reveal he is campaigning for Scottish Labour in the affluent local authority area south of Glasgow.

A local Labour branch posted a photograph of Aitken leafleting with the council’s deputy leader Andrew Anderson in Eaglesham on Saturday.

It included the caption: “Really good campaigning session in Eaglesham today with Cllr Anderson of [East Renfrewshire Council]. Very positive reception, lots of people planning to return to [Scottish Labour].”

National reader Karl Dempster, of Newton Mearns, said: “I think this is an example of the sorry state Labour is in where a candidate from the right-wing Eurosceptic Brexit Party is welcomed into the 'left-wing progressive' Labour party.”

And SNP councillor Chris Lunday said: “Former Conservative [councillor] and Brexit Party candidate now Labour activist in East Renfrewshire.

“Labour are a pale imitation of the Tories and the party of ‘Make Brexit Work’”.

Challenged by one social media user on Aitken’s political conversion, the local branch said: “Scottish Labour are looking forward to welcoming many people who previously voted for other parties.”

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Aitken quit the Tories around five years ago, saying he felt “bound by party diktat”.

Then deputy leader of East Renfrewshire council Paul O’Kane – now an MSP – told The Herald at the time: “I’m calling on Paul Aitken to resign from East Renfrewshire council and stand as an independent candidate to see if people want to back his perspective.”

He was not on the ballot for the last General Election and is thought to have stood down as part of a Brexit Party deal with the Tories to avoid splitting the Eurosceptic vote.

Labour run a minority administration in East Renfrewshire, with the support of independent councillors – though the local SNP branch claim they have been supported by Conservative votes on a number of issues. 

Aitken lost his seat at the 2022 local elections. 

Scottish Labour did not respond to a request for comment.