A CONSERVATIVE councillor — who said he was tempted to ditch the party and join UKIP over Brexit — has been criticised for airing ‘nasty’ views on social media.

Cllr Ian Ward, the Isle of Wight Council’s cabinet member for transport, liked one tweet that urged shoppers to ‘declare commercial war on the EU’ and ‘hit the swine hard.’

In another tweet, now deleted, the long-standing Conservative urged Islanders to vote for UKIP.

Cllr Ward tweeted to his 516 followers: “All Brexit supporters need to vote for UKIP or the Brexit party to put as many anti EU MEPs in place to destroy the EU from the inside.”

Cllr Ward said he had written the tweet because he was ‘so incredibly angry’ at how the government had handled Brexit.

However, ‘party loyalty’ meant he would only vote for UKIP or the Brexit Party were he to leave the Conservatives.

Isle of Wight County Press:

He said: “There have been moments where I have been tempted [to leave], but this is only one issue and I am a dyed-in-the-wool Conservative.

“I do not know what the other policies are [for UKIP and the Brexit party].”

Cllr Ward has also been criticised for liking a number of controversial tweets, including some written by Katie Hopkins and a Jacob Rees-Mogg fan club account.

One tweet advocates the immediate raising of the voting age to 25, while another said: “Teachers openly tried to shame my children at school for being English, encouraged by these ‘academics.'”

Another tweet liked by Cllr Ward said: “Boycott all EU produce. I put a spring cabbage back on the shelf in Waitrose this morning when I spotted it came from Spain. Replaced it with spring greens from Suffolk. Wage unrelenting commercial war on the EU. Every shopper can do it every day. Hit the swine hard.”

Isle of Wight County Press:

Speaking in his defence, Cllr Ward said he did not know who Katie Hopkins was, and ‘I can’t always remember everything I like’.

He added: “I don’t necessarily agree with everything I like on Twitter.

“I think people on the Isle of Wight would have better things to do that worry about what I am putting on social media.”

His tweets were criticised by Wight Breaking News (@wightbreaking) who said: “Let us not normalise the beliefs and actions of Ian Ward.

“For someone who believes that Brexit will bring everyone together, and that people old and young voted for it, he’s quick to want a ban on people under 25 voting.

“But hey, it’s not ALL the young. It’s the older people too. And this is why he believes it’s right to use a picture of someone whose colleague got killed over such matters, as target practice.”

Cllr Ward said he would reduce his social media use in the future.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Speaking about the Brexit tweet, chair of the Isle of Wight Conservative association, David Pugh, said: “Cllr Ward clearly feels very strongly about the issue of Brexit, as many of our members do.

“None of us want to see the UK participate in European elections, but if they do take place, the expectation will be that Conservatives encourage people to vote for the party.

“Anyone who holds public office should be careful in the language they use publicly — that does not just apply to Ian. People do take a considerable interested in what elected officials are saying online.

“I think given the nature of the topic, councillors should be careful they do say anything they will regret.”

He’s not the first Conservative councillor to come under fire for their use of social media.

Last week, Island Labour slammed Cllr Chris Whitehouse for a ‘spectacularly offensive’ tweet attacking the late MP Paul Flynn.

Cllr Whitehouse said he is now taking a break from social media for Holy Week.

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