Watford’s Conservative party has been extinguished at borough level after the last Tory councillor has defected to the ruling Liberal Democrat group.

Steve Johnson, who had been the leader of the Conservatives on Watford Borough Council until recently, announced this morning he was crossing the floor due to the national Tory party’s "right wing drift".

In a statement the Leggatts representative said: "I have become increasingly disappointed by the right-wing drift of Conservative party rhetoric, particularly its attitude to welfare issues.

"I feel my views are more in tune with the Liberal Democrat part of the coalition, in balancing financial sense with compassion and fairness.

"It is also clear to me that locally Mayor Dorothy Thornhill and the Lib Dems are doing a good job of running the council and making sure Watford continues to be a thriving and successful town.

"In contrast I feel the other parties offer little in the way of a positive vision for Watford."

Councillor Johnson’s decision comes after a steady period of electoral decline for the Conservatives at borough in recent years.

Last year the number of Conservatives on the council was reduced to two when former group leader Andrew Mortimer lost his Nascot seat to a Liberal Democrat challenger Mark Hofman.

Then in July Councillor Johnson was left as the last Conservative member after Park councillor Malcolm Meerabux was expelled from the party.

The move means the town’s MP, Richard Harrington is the last elected Conservative left in Watford.

Councillor Johnson was elected to the council in 2009 and in 2010 stood against the Liberal Democrat elected mayor, Dorothy Thornhill, in the mayoral elections.

At the time he stood on a platform of increasing money for council services by cutting the cost of the mayor’s office and salary.

Today Mayor Thornhill welcomed her former opponent Councillor Johnson into her party.

She said: "Steve has been a well-informed and respected voice in the council chamber, in particular on housing issues.

"He is also a dedicated and effective ward councillor and I have long felt that his views are more in tune with the Liberal Democrats than with the Conservative party."

The leader of the Liberal Democrat borough group, Councillor Iain Sharpe, added: "I am delighted to welcome Steve to our group and party. He will be an asset to our group and a valued member of the team."