A NEW anti-Brexit party is calling for candidates to fight in this May's local election in a bid to overturn last year's referendum result.

Viva Europa was set up by Ed Thompson and Sean Elliott, two self-described 'ordinary blokes' who work in middle management in a Southampton bank.

Concerned the 'Tory-led Brexit' was dragging Britain into 'financial, social and political disaster', unconvinced by the Labour alternative and aware the coalition-damaged Liberal Democrats would make little ground at the May 3 elections, the pair decided to act.

In addition to Mr Thompson standing in a Conservative stronghold seat in Southampton, they have urged Remainers in Tory and Labour boroughs to put their names on the ballot.

"Some people might think that this is a national issue, 'what has it got to do with local government?'" Mr Thompson said.

"Since 2010 government funds have been cut to local councils, like Epping Forest, by 40 per cent. There have been cut backs in services across the country.

"According to the government's own analysis Brexit will cut GDP by five per cent, which will hit local governments further."

As well as predicting financial ruin if Britain leaves the EU and its knock-on effect for councils, Mr Thompson argued the soft-power of local politics could have an impact on central government policy making.

He added: "MPs rely on the support of their local councillors, particularly when it comes to fighting elections.

"This will provide a way for the anti-Brexit movement to pressurise MPs.

"What we need are candidates who will be able to take it really seriously and to try and progress local issues in their ward.

"We are not trying to undermine the process of local government."

Rod Butler, councillor for Waltham Abbey and the district's only UKIP member, was less than impressed with Mr Thompson's plans.

He said: "It would be really going against the millions of people that made the decision to vote to leave the EU.

"We are leaving and we are going to Brexit. We should be pulling together to get the best deal.

"I think this idea is a shame and a bit insulting really."

When asked if he would have stopped campaigning to leave the EU if the referendum had gone the other way, Cllr Butler said: "I would have been upset but I would have accepted the result. I would have then tried to change the things that are wrong with the EU.

"I don't think you can turn over democratic decisions."

To find out more and to run as a Viva Europa candidate, email info@vivaeuropa.org.uk