Epsom's Tory MP got into the festive spirit by singing carols accompanied by his UKIP rival on the keyboard - after threatening not to attend the event unless all of the area's parliamentary candidates were invited.

The event at the Ashley Centre in Epsom raised £550 for the mayor’s charities Epsom and Ewell Foodbank, Citizens Advice Bureau and Cystic Fibrosis Trust on Saturday.

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UKIP parlimentary candidate Robert Leach plays the keyboard

But in an email to the organisers, Chris Grayling had threatened to pull out of the singing when he discovered his UKIP rival in next May's General Election, Robert Leach, would be playing the piano, unless the prospective Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates were invited as well.

This email was leaked to political blog Guido Fawkes who pasted the Justice Secretary's face on an image of Scrooge under the headline Ebenezer Grayling Threatens to Cancel Christmas.

Of the carol singing, Mr Leach said: "It was a very happy, joyful occasion. Chris Grayling did turn up. He turned up after I started playing and completely ignored me."

Mr Grayling denied ignoring Mr Leach, saying: "I was there for an hour, I sang, Robert was playing the piano all the time I was there."

He added: "I’m delighted that the carol singing raised lots of money for the mayor’s charities.

"I think it’s important in the run up to the General Election that all candidates have a chance to take part in civic events whatever they are."

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Mr Leach said former Labour mayor Alan Carlson and Lib Dem Councillor Alison Kelly took part in the carol singing, but he remains baffled by Mr Grayling’s stance.

He said: "I don’t understand it. Does he think I’m going to be playing Away in a Manager so seductively that everybody is going to say ‘listen to the piano player playing so beautifully I’m going to vote UKIP?'

"There are bigger things in the world than party politics. I have been involved in local politics for 25 years and playing the organ for 50 years and the issue has never arisen."

Mr Leach said he has also received an email from Mr Grayling wishing him a merry Christmas.

Brian Angus, chairman of the mayor’s charities, said he was glad everybody enjoyed the carol singing and that it raised lots of money for charity.

He said: "Robert had no intention of making it a UKIP event. His contribution was applauded by the carol singers. Thanks to the Male Voice Choir and others a great sound was made." 

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