Conservative candidate at centre of betting row breaks silence

-Credit: (Image: PA)
-Credit: (Image: PA)

The Conservative candidate at the centre of a row about placing bets on the date of the election has broken his silence. After days of questions, the party today withdrew support for Mr Williams, the candidate for Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr.

It means he will officially be an independent candidate for the general election on July 4, but ballot papers have already been printed and postal votes sent out, which will say he is the Conservative candidate.

In a video posted on X, formerly Twitter, Mr Williams denied he had committed any offence and said he would "clear my name". He said: "I just want [to send] a quick message to the constituents of Montgomeryshire and Glyndŵr: I remain on the ballot paper and on July 4 and I hope to secure your support after years of delivery.

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"I committed an error of judgement, not an offence, and I want to reiterate my apology directly to you. I'm fully co-operating with routine enquiries by the Gambling Commission and I intend to clear my name.

"In all these things due process is important and that is what sets the UK apart from other countries and the commission must be allowed to do its work." He said it had been a "privilege" to be MP for the constituency.

In his message, he said: "For now, the most important thing I want to say to you today is I'm committed to my campaign to be elected as your MP. Finally a huge thankyou to everyone who has reached out, come up to the office, and still continues to lend me your support this week and today, it's now over to you, the electorate of Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr, it's your decision, you're the ones that matter on the fourth of July."

Polling shows the seat could be in play for Labour, although the Lib Dems are also hopeful. Polling for Wales has shown that Labour are on course for a thumping resurgence compared to 2019, with projections of upwards of 28 seats, out of the total 32. Plaid Cymru are projected for two or three, with either Mr Williams' seat, or the neighbouring Brecon and Radnorshire and Cwm Tawe, also possible for the Conservatives to hold any presence in Wales in Westminster.

A Conservative Party spokesman said earlier today: “As a result of ongoing internal inquiries, we have concluded that we can no longer support Craig Williams or Laura Saunders as parliamentary candidates at the forthcoming General Election.

“We have checked with the Gambling Commission that this decision does not compromise the investigation that they are conducting, which is rightly independent and ongoing.”