The leader of the Labour group on Sedgemoor District Council has announced he is quitting the party over “Brexit in-fighting” and the party’s handling of anti-Semitism.

Diogo Rodrigues wrote a blog on Friday explaining why he is critical of the Labour Party nationally. He will continue to serve in the area as an independent councillor.

The former Mayor of Bridgwater said: “Before any rumours start spreading or lies start being spouted I want to let you know [that] today I resigned as a member of the Labour Party.”

He said he has been “a committed member of the Labour party with its clear principles of fairness, equality and opportunity for all.”

“But for some time I have felt myself feeling more and more disenfranchised and disconnected from the Party.”

“The Labour Party has not conveyed a strong and positive message about the future of the UK post-Brexit, instead conveying a message more on the lines of damage limitation, and I believe this is one of its biggest downfalls.”

“The party seems to be in a mess… fighting with itself and as a result failing in its leadership. Because of this, at this moment, I feel I have been pushed away and can no longer be part of the Labour Party.”

Bridgwater’s deputy Labour leader, councillor Brian Smedley said the news had come as a “bolt out of the blue”.

Mr Smedley said the resignation was: “So unbelievable I assumed it was a joke and had to check he hadn’t been hacked.” He said he was “astounded” that it was genuine and: “Immediately tried to talk him out of it but his mind had been made up.” He said the party will: “Simply close ranks, lick our wounds and carry on the struggle” to deliver the manifesto.