A former Tory MP for Esher and Walton has been named president of the constituency's European Movement (EM).

Ian Taylor is a previous National Chair of the European Movement and was Minister for Science and Technology under former Conservative Prime Minister John Major.

He represented Esher as a Conservative MP between 1987 and 1997, and Esher and Walton from 1997 to 2010.

His appointment to the head of the pro-European group, who oppose Brexit and are lobbying for a "People's Vote" in the hopes of remaining within the European Union (EU), reflects the deep divisions among the Conservatives on the issue.

Esher and Walton's current MP — newly appointed Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab — favours Brexit and is a vocal advocate for leaving the EU by October this year, with or without a pre-arranged deal signed off by EU member states.

Commenting on his new role at the forefront of the European Movement in his former constituency, Mr Taylor alluded to the divisive nature of Brexit.

"Brexit has created divisions in our communities which cut across traditional Party tribalism — it has led to a crisis of governance at Westminster.

"The risk of No-Deal is so great that I am giving my support again to the efforts of the European Movement locally and nationally," the ex Esher and Walton MP said.

"We still have time to explain and defend all the benefits that we derive from our EU membership.

"The UK should maintain the closest possible political, economic, social and security relationship with its friends, partners, and allies in the European Union," he added.

Your Local Guardian: Ian Taylor at a pro-EU demonstrationIan Taylor at a pro-EU demonstration

Recent developments suggest his perspective on Europe is more closely aligned with voters in Esher and Walton than Mr Raab.

In the 2016 "In-Out" Referendum on EU membership, Esher and Walton electors voted by over 59 per cent to remain.

Mr Raab on the other hand has repeatedly advocated for a swift departure from the EU.

In a statement sent to the Comet earlier this year, the Esher and Walton MP suggested that national concerns took precedent when it came to Brexit.

"It's crucial we keep our promises to voters and leave the EU by October, to end this debilitating uncertainty and maintain public trust in our democracy," Mr Raab said.

Speaking to the Surrey Comet after news of the announcement broke on Wednesday (August 21), the chair for EM's Esher and Walton branch, David Nickerson, said that Mr Taylor's appointment added "considerable weight" to the group's pro-European efforts in the area.

"The Conservative party is split on this. It has been split, it's still split, so it's as contentious for them as anyone else.

"If you look back at Ian's record, he's been a massive supporter of Europe throughout his career and I think he adds considerable weight to our movement in the constituency," Mr Nickerson said.

He added that the group's activities in the area continued to reflect the EU Referendum Result in showing a majority of Esher and Walton voters wanted to remain in the EU and avoid a No Deal Brexit in particular.

"The feeling has grown that Dominic Raab doesn't represent the views of the majority of people in Esher and Walton on Brexit," Mr Nickerson said, pointing to the success of the Liberal democrats, who oppose Brexit, in Elmbridge at the European Elections earlier this year.

"All the work we do on our street stalls over the last year, around the constituency, suggest that the overwhelming majority of people here want to remain in the EU and have a People's Vote.

"We believe No Deal would be a complete and utter disaster and we want to raise everyone's awareness of just how bad that's going to be," he said.