Ballantyne set to spearhead new Farage party in Scotland
Former Scottish Borders Councillor Michelle Ballantyne has this morning been named as the leader of the Scottish branch of Nigel Farage’s new extreme right-wing Reform Party.
Mrs Ballantyne, who last year lost out in her bid to lead the Scottish Conservatives to Jackson Carlaw, and, indeed left the party she represented on the South Scotland list, saying she was “not a good fit” with the Tories’ political direction.
The party intends to field candidates on the regional list section of this May’s Holyrood election.
Mrs Ballantyne said this morning: “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.”
Mrs Ballantyne has been tagged a lockdown sceptic, saying she wants children to return to school and adults to begin socialising normally.
She also said she hoped nationalists and unionists in Scotland will get behind her new party’s message of reform and rebuilding.
Welcoming Mrs Ballantyne into the party, Mr Farage – a high-profile supporter of US President Donald Trump – posted a video on Twitter this morning, saying he hoped she would “spearhead the campaign” in Scotland.
He said: “In Scotland, there is a debate amongst those who want to separate from the United Kingdom and be part of the European Union and those who want the union to survive.
“On virtually everything else, debate has ceased, there is no opposition coming from the Scottish Conservatives or anybody else to the SNP’s ‘woke’ agenda.
“Well, somebody who is prepared to stand up quite fearlessly and have open, genuine democratic debate and conversation is Michelle Ballanyne.
“As you know, she is an MSP and she is prepared to stand up and to fight.
“And for that reason, I am delighted that she is coming on board with the Reform Party.
“I am hoping she will spearhead the campaign for the Scottish Parliament this year, though I don’t really think these elections are going to happen.
“So Michelle, welcome. There is now going to be a voice in the Scottish Parliament that will stand up and say: ‘Hang on a second, let’s think about this.’
“I wish her well, she has got all our support.”
Mrs Ballantyne’s Twitter account still shows her as an Independent MSP.