Nigel Farage: Reform Party will have voice in Scottish Parliament
Former Conservative MSP Michelle Ballantyne was announced as the leader of Scotland’s newest political party earlier today. Ms Ballantyne, who previously hoped to be Scottish Tory leader, now takes on the role for Reform UK Scotland who will be fielding candidates in the upcoming Holyrood elections.
In an interview with Express.co.uk, the leader of the party said of the SNP’s independence pledge: “I’m not surprised, you have to remember that the SNP’s objective is to actually try and achieve a break-up of the UK and prioritise that over everything else.
“Their record over the last 14 years proves that point.”
Ms Ballantyne claimed the SNP, led by Nicola Sturgeon and Ian Blackford at Westminster, made all decisions “based on how they can promote a break-up of the UK”.
She claimed the independence policies were the “underlying reason why a lot of Scotland’s public services” were suffering because they “haven’t put the people first, they have put an ideological need first.”
Her comments come after Deputy First Minister John Swinney said Independence was an “essential priority” for Scotland’s recovery from coronavirus.
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Polling on independence has seen a shift in attitudes in the last six months, with support for separation becoming the majority in June and more than a dozen subsequent surveys showing a continued lead for the Yes side.
Ms Ballantyne added on Mr Swinney’s comments “I’m disappointed in John because I always thought he was better than that.”
The MSP described the new party as being “pro-Scotland and pro the UK”, adding that this was “simply the best choice for the people of these islands”.
After stepping down from the Scottish Conservatives, Ms Ballantyne said she was “approached by numerous different people” when deciding her political future.
She added to this publication: “I made the decision to accept and run Reform UK Scotland because they are giving me autonomy.
“It’s important to talk to everybody.
“It’s really important the electorate understand what they are voting for – a clear manifesto, a clear vision for Scotland I think is paramount.”
On the UK’s current relationship with the EU, Ms Ballantyne took aim at the First Minister after she pledged an independent Scotland would rejoin the EU after Brexit.
She continued: “We need to be positive and make absolutely the best of the opportunities that we now have and if Nicola Sturgeon’s doesn’t want to do that, then she should stand down.”
Ms Ballantyne said her new party would make a “positive case for the Union” as she told independence supporters their “dream will deliver chaos” for Scotland.
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Speaking about the party, Ms Ballantyne concluded: “We are pro Scotland and pro the UK because we believe it is simply the best choice for the people of these islands. Why? Because it is the most successful union ever created.
“It has served us well for over 300 years and never so well as in the last few months as the combined power of the Union has brought us financial aid and the first and fastest vaccination programme in Europe.”
As she was announced as the Scottish leader of the party, which was previously known as The Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage, Reform UK chairman Richard Tice spoke out against the prospect of a second independence referendum.
He said: “There is no need for any referendum for a generation – far better that existing powers, including those repatriated from the EU are used to better effect than create further bitter division between Scots and within the UK.”
Ms Ballantyne had stood for the leadership of the Scottish Conservatives after Ruth Davidson quit in 2019, but lost out to former leader Jackson Carlaw.
She quit the party in November 2020, saying after Douglas Ross took over as leader that she was no longer a “good fit” with the Scottish Tories’ political direction.
A Scottish Conservatives spokesman said: “Only the Scottish Conservatives can challenge the SNP across Scotland and stop their push for indyref2 again, just as we have since 2014.”
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