A LEADING Labour member of Brighton and Hove City Council has defected to the Conservatives - leaving the Tories as the largest party.

Anne Meadows is councillor for Moulsecoomb and Bevendean and chairs the housing commitee.

She was deselected by Labour party members last July.

In a Tweet, the Conservative party said: "Anne has been a dedicated councillor in Brighton & Hove since 1994 but has been driven out by the disgraceful anti-Jewish racism that runs through Corbyn’s #momentum Labour Party.

Tony Janio, leader of the Conservative group on the city council, welcomed the move and said he "massively respected" Cllr Meadows for the decision.

But Labour MP for Kemptown Lloyd Russell-Moyle was heavily critical.

He posted on Twitter: "This is nothing but a barefaced career move from Anne.

"She wasn't selected to be a candidate for Labour at the upcoming election, so she has betrayed the party for her own self preservation."

>> Click here for our live blog as the city is rocked by the Labour defection 

"We are looking into the process that the council has to follow relating to this."

The move comes just three months beofre the next local elections.

>> 'I was attacked in meetings' - Defecting Labour councillor speaks out

Tory leader Tony Janio reacts:

"I first got to know Anne when I joined the council and we’ve always got on reasonably well over the years.

"We all want the same things in life we just have a different way of going about it.

"Given what’s happened to Anne over the past year or so, the Conservative party welcomes her into the council.

"The thing that a lot of Labour members are saying to us is that it’s worse than it appears in public.

"People who have been members for years aren’t going to come out and trash them but they’re realising that the moderates will never gain control of the Labour Party again.

"I massively respect Anne for this. It’s not about us.

"It’s about the decision she has made.

"You have to consider what she’s been through.

"This decision is based on what’s happened to her in a Labour party that she didn’t join that many years ago.

"The Labour party now is not the party she joined years ago It’s succumbed to a takeover and moderate MPs can’t stand it any longer.

"The independent group is growing.

"Anne feels strong enough to join us.

"We will be aiming to get a minority council.

"The other parties should acquiesce to the largest party having control of the council.

"The largest group in council should form It’s good news but not just for conservatives.

"We have to think of Anne now and her decision."

>> 'I was attacked in meetings' - Defecting Labour councillor speaks out