Ann Widdecombe has joined the Reform UK Party ahead of the next general election.
The veteran Tory minister, who briefly served as a Brexit Party MEP prior to the UK’s departure from the EU, said she had taken the leap from “political homelessness” because “it is very clear that it is the only way to save the Union”.
The party’s leader, Richard Tice, has set his sights on “obliterating” the Conservatives at the next election, calling Rishi Sunak’s deal on the Northern Ireland Protocol the “final straw” for him.
Last year, Nigel Farage pledged that Reform UK – a party he founded – will field a full slate of candidates at the next general election.
The right-winger said “I didn’t spend 25 years battling for Brexit only to watch the Tories give it away”.
However, only one of the new members at the sparsely attended press conference, Ben Habib, would commit to standing as an MP at the next election.
Alexandra Phillips, who was already on board, also said she would run.
Widdecombe said: “When the Brexit Party dissolved and morphed into Reform, I did not join Reform.
“There were various reasons why I didn’t. But now the reason that I’m joining Reform, along with another 10 of the former Brexit Party MEPs, is because it is very clear that it is the only way to save the Union.
“I do not believe that that is an exaggeration. We have left Northern Ireland in the single market while the rest of the UK has withdrawn and yet… it was made extremely clear in the Conservative Party manifesto that when we left the EU we would leave as one United Kingdom.”
Sunak was dealt a Brexit blow yesterday after the DUP said it will oppose the Government in this week’s first parliamentary vote on the new Windsor Framework Brexit deal.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said DUP officers met on Monday morning and unanimously agreed to vote against the first aspect of the Windsor Framework to be considered by Parliament, the Stormont brake.
The brake would allow a minority of MLAs at Stormont to formally flag concerns about the imposition of new EU laws in Northern Ireland – a move that could see the UK Government veto their introduction in the region.
The first Commons vote on the EU/UK agreement on trading arrangements for Northern Ireland will take place on Wednesday.
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