The Greens have become the party with the most seats on Brighton and Hove City Council after Labour councillor Nikkie Brennan resigned from the party this evening (Monday 20 July).
The Green group was holding a “virtual” meeting to decide whether to accept a power sharing offer from Labour when the news broke.
The party must now decide whether to try to take over the administration, accept the power-sharing offer or continue with the current arrangements.
It said this afternoon that it would issue a statement “in due course”.
Councillor Brennan’s resignation, following Councillor Kate Knight’s resignation earlier today, left Labour with 18 seats out of 54.
Councillor Anne Pissaridou was suspended by Labour last week but is expected to continue to vote with the party in the council chamber. All three are under investigation for alleged anti-semitism.
The Greens have 19 seats – one more than Labour – while the Conservatives have 13 and there are now four independent councillors, including the two ex-Labour members.
The Labour council leader Nancy Platts is expected to meet the council’s chief executive Geoff Raw and its senior lawyer Abraham Ghebre-Ghiorghis tomorrow morning (Tuesday 21 July) to discuss the situation.
Councillor Platts emailed colleagues just after 9.20pm and said: “I have just received notification that Councillor Brennan has resigned from the Labour Party and is no longer a member of the Labour group.
“I understand the council will be putting a statement out this evening.
“I will be talking to Geoff and Abraham again in the morning.”
The resignations and the suspension are linked to the row in the Labour Party about anti-semitism, with all three councillors facing scrutiny or investigation over past social media posts after revelations on the Brighton and Hove News website.
All three were selected for last year’s local elections on a Momentum slate but the group’s influence has waned since Sir Keir Starmer took over from Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader nationally.
In the local elections last year Labour narrowly avoided losing its position as the largest party on the council, ending up with 20 councillors while the Greens won 19 seats.
Talk has been rife over the past week about a possible motion of no confidence in Labour.
The two existing independent councillors, Bridget Fishleigh and former Conservative Tony Janio, have signalled that they could support the Greens should such a vote be called.
Following Kate Knight’s resignation, Councillor Platts offered to share power with the Greens on condition that the council leader remained a Labour councillor.
But the offer became moot as soon as news of Councillor Brennan’s resignation emerged.
It looks likely that the shift in power will happen officially at the full council meeting scheduled for Thursday (23 July) either by agreement or after a vote of no confidence in Labour.
It is also possible that the change could happen sooner if the council calls an extraordinary council meeting before Thursday.
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