Tory Leader Coup, Independents possibly putting up alternative leader – County Hall talks latest

Phil Seeva elected as leader of Conservatives on Cornwall Council

seeva 2
Seeva outside County Hall today


Talks to form an administration at Cornwall Council following last week’s election have taken an unexpected detour as one of the main roles has had a change of actor. 

The leadership of the Tory group changed today and therefore who is front runner to become Leader of the council. 

At today’s AGM of the Cornish Conservative group Cornwall Councillor for Menheniot, Phil Seeva, has been chosen as leader for the Conservatives on Cornwall Council.

Phil, 47, is a public relations consultant and lives at Liskeard, where he is a former town Mayor.

James Mustoe, 32, Cornwall Councillor for Mevagissey was chosen as deputy leader for the group.

Commenting, Phil said:

“I am delighted to have the full support of the Conservative Group as its new leader.”


“The recent local elections sent a clear message that the public want change on Cornwall Council.”


“I look forward to working with my team to deliver this change as well as to provide the strong leadership needed for Cornwall Council.”


“I will be getting back around the table with other Cornwall Councillors on Monday to form the Administration that will run Cornwall Council for the next four years.”

The move to replace him as leader would have come as a surprise to John Keeling, the man Phil Seeva is replacing, who told us only a few days ago that, in his usual charismatic way, he would be ‘damned disappointed’ if he didn’t become Council Leader after the unexpectedly good results for the Tories in the council elections.

Mr Keeling had told CS of his growing excitement of leading a Conservative administration when he spoke to us earlier in the week and certainly did not let on that there might be a challenge to his group leadership, if he knew about it. Asked if he was disappointed or upset tonight, he told CS: 

“I have done my bit by putting together a manifesto that appealed to people on the doorstep and resulted in those big gains in Conservative councillors. I still have a role to play and my many years of experience is available to the new leader”

Andrew Mitchell Leader of the Independent Group who Mr Seeva will be hoping to form a Council with on Monday may have other plans though.

Mr Mitchell did nothing to dispel the rumour that the Independents are lining up a candidate of their own to put forward as Council Leader.

The St Ives councillor said he’d have an “interesting statement for us Monday, then!” in response to the news that  Seeva intends to form an administration after the weekend.

Mr Mitchell told  tonight “We still have to vote on the Tory offer. It is a little early to say but all options are possible. Any action taken by the Independent Group will be democratically arrived at and that will also apply to any candidate we put forward for any position!”

More Cornish News

It is the Leader who appoints the Cabinet posts. Portfolio Holders and Committee Chairs.

The leader will be elected at the council AGM on 23rd May. It would be hoped that the proposed administration would be settled before the day, with a group formed that produces a majority and therefore is guaranteed their choice of Leader they want on the day. However we could be heading for an unusual situation where vote on the day is not a fore gone conclusion.

The Liberal Democrats are not keen at the moment to form an administration with anyone and will be happy to sit back and enjoy the potential car crash Mr Seeva and his inexperienced young Cornish Tories are headed for,  to try and run a minority council given all the cuts from a central Tory government.

WATCH: When can Cornwall expect to get a council?

“The Lib Dems are being feeble” claimed Tim Dwelly today. The leader of the 5 Labour group councillors told us “They think the Tories ‘won’ so they should be given ‘first chance'”

Tim Dwelly

“Well Bang goes their  ‘only the Lib Dems can stop the Tories’ line and the Progressive Alliance! 62% of councillors are non-Tory – it’s obvious it should be a Lib Dem / Indy coalition. We have said we will vote down the Tories. We will back any Leader who keeps the Tories out but the Lib Dems have refused to even meet the Independent group! There’s possibly a Independent leader candidate being put up if the Lib Dems won’t toughen up”

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