AN MP and a councillor have clashed over the future of the royal family.

West Dorset MP Chris Loder has accused Dorset and Bridport town councillor Kelvin Clayton of "disrespect" after he brought up the subject of a potential referendum to replace the British monarchy.

Mr Loder said he was shocked that the subject should be raised as the Queen continues to grieve for her husband, Prince Philip, who died on April 9.

It came after Cllr Clayton raised the subject with Mr Loder on Twitter.

He asked: "Do you agree that the monarchy should be replaced, perhaps sometime after the Queen's reign is over?" and then "Whether or not you support the monarchy, do you accept that in this day and age there should at least be a referendum on whether to keep the monarchy? Would you support a referendum being held at some point after the Queen's death?"

Both tweets also tagged 'Republic', a campaign to replace the monarchy with an elected head of state.

Mr Loder did not directly reply to the tweets, but instead issued a statement to the media saying he was "dismayed" and "shocked" by Cllr Clayton's comments.

Mr Loder said: “The Queen is grieving. Barely a month after Her Majesty the Queen lost her husband of 73 years, a sitting councillor is pushing for the end of the monarchy. This is an unbelievable mark of disrespect. Institutions that have served the British people so many years, the monarchy being the most important should be conserved and brought forward with us through the generations, not subverted and undermined at every opportunity for political gain.”

He added: “When I was elected as Member of Parliament here, I proudly swore an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen, her heirs and successors according to law. I’d like to reassure everyone that I will not be reneging on this oath and will continue to support Her Majesty the Queen, our monarch who works so tirelessly for our country.”

In response, Cllr Clayton told the News: “As an institution the royal family is inconsistent with a 21st century democracy. Our Head of State should be elected by the people of this country, not hold the role by virtue of birth. Inherited privilege and power is an anachronism that is wrong in principle and bad for British politics.”