A UKIP councillor who has been backed by millionaire party donor Arron Banks has been selected to fight for the Clacton seat at the General Election.

Jeff Bray, who represents Weeley and Little Clacton on Tendring Council, was selected as Ukip’s candidate following a hustings event on Wednesday.

Mr Bray, who beat London-based barrister Paul Oakley by 19 votes to 16, is now the party’s provisional candidate and expects to be ratified by Ukip’s National Executive Committee on Friday.

Mr Bray, 57, a former engineer and financial consultant, said: “It was a really good hustings and I was up against an excellent candidate in Paul Oakley.

“I’m quite sure he would have won apart from the fact that I have the local knowledge that he doesn’t have.

“It didn’t hurt that I got the backing from Arron Banks after he decided not to stand.

“Arron came down here and recognised that we have a group of people here representing Ukip that are extremely capable.

“He recognised we are doing a good job and that the stories he had been told about Ukip councillors being useless were not true.

“He made the decision to back me, which was a huge honour."

Braintree and Witham Times:

  • Ukip donor Arron banks, pictured at Clacton's Moon & Starfish pub, says he will financially back Jeff Bray

Mr Bray added: “This is a Ukip town, a Ukip seat – what I have been picking up on the doorstep is that people want someone local.

“This is a Brexit election and we want Clacton to remain a Ukip town.

“In the rest of the country you will hear the Conservatives say that if you vote Ukip you will let in Labour or the Lib Dems, we are the opposite here – if you vote Tory you will let in the others.

“We must make sure the remain-voting Prime Minister doesn’t go back on what she’s doing.

“At the moment she is making the right noises, but she needs someone to hold her feet to the fire.

“Douglas Carswell was considered by many to be a good MP, and as a constituency MP that is probably fair, but I don’t think Douglas was ever really Ukip.”

Mr Bray said Ukip will be campaigning to force through Brexit, but added that it will also be fighting on local issues.

“I’ve lived here 35 years and know and understand the area,” he said.

“There are so many things to do locally - we have problems with our infrastructure and our roads aren’t properly maintained.

“Ukip have been fighting at district level for more infrastructure before housing is built.”

Mr Bray has come under fire after Twitter and Facebook posts supposedly authored by him were circulated on social media.

Braintree and Witham Times:

  • Mr Bray said a tweet shared on social media supposedly authored by him had been "manipulated" to change the word 'Labour' to 'Muslim'.

One of the controversial comments read: ‘“would Jimmy Saville’s [sic] behaviour have been acceptable if he had been muslim [sic] ??”

Mr Bray said the tweet had been manipulated and taken out of context and he also denied authoring another post on Facebook that had been shared.

He said: “The Jimmy Savile comment was changed. The word ‘muslim’ was actually ‘Labour’.

“I remember that argument - it was with a guy who said Jimmy Savile got away with it for all those years because he was a Conservative.

“The comment has been taken out of context.

“There has been some manipulation here - someone has got into my account someway, somehow.

“I’m not an IT expert and don’t know how they have done it. Something has been manipulated and they have been altered in a way to read how they were never intended to.

“We are used to dirty tricks against Ukip – there is no level below which they will go.”

Mr Bray has since suspended his social media accounts.

Mr Bray is also standing in the county council election in the Tendring Rural East division.

The full list of candidates for the county council election for the Tendring Rural East is: Matthew Bensilum (Lib Dem), Jeff Bray (Ukip), Andy Erskine (Con), Maria Fowler (Lab), Chris Southall (Green).