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Vicar to represent Brexit Party as he bids to become MP at general election
A vicar in the Forest of Dean will challenge the Conservative seat in his area at the next general election.
Rev Sam Norton, vicar of St Paul's Church in Park End and All Saints Church in Viney Hill, Gloucestershire, has been announced as the Brexit Party candidate.
He wrote on twitter: "Surprised, humbled, excited, nervous.... but eager to serve the whole of the Forest of Dean and determined to change politics for good"
The vicar wrote a blog in 2014 about why he voted for UKIP as a Christian, in which he wrote: "When priests are ordained we are charged to 'let the good shepherd be the pattern of our calling' - in other words, we are to try to walk the walk that Jesus walked.
"As he was someone who was executed by the state for being politically inconvenient, I have some idea of how he would react to being put into a corner and told not to startle the establishment."
As it currently stands, he would stand against the Conservative leadership candidate Mark Harper, who pulled out of the race early on.
If elected, he would resign from his church.
Bishop of Tewkesbury, Rt Rev Robert Springett, said his politics will not intertwine with his gospel teaching: "While we encourage all people to be engaged in the political process, the diocese of Gloucester does not endorse any political party, recognising there will be a spread of views across the Church and in our communities.
"I am grateful for Sam's assurance that his political beliefs and ambitions will not be reflected in his ministry in his parish and wider diocese. This is something I would expect of all clergy as we seek to minister to all in our care."
Speaking to Gloucestershire Live, Rev Norton, who is also associate director of ordinands for the diocese, said: "Our present political system has broken down, and there has been a breach of trust between our politicians and the people they were elected to serve - I want to restore that trust. We need to renew the culture of Westminster with fresh thinking from people who aren't career politicians.
"If the people of the Forest of Dean choose me as their MP I promise to keep faith with them and earn back their trust. I have a passion to serve people and I want our whole community to flourish. If we work together we can sort out Brexit and change our politics for good."
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