Ex-Tory minister Ann Widdecombe to stand for Farage’s Brexit Party at EU elections

Lizzy Buchan
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Ex-Tory minister Ann Widdecombe to stand for Farage’s Brexit Party at EU elections

Former Tory minister Ann Widdecombe has declared she will stand as a candidate for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party in the upcoming European elections.

The 71-year-old will be the party’s lead candidate for the southwest in next month’s polls, in an unexpected return to frontline politics after her retirement in 2010.

Ms Widdecombe said she felt “compelled” to return to the fray over her disgust at the handling of Brexit, and to allow the public to “fire a very loud warning shot across the bows of the parties they would normally support”.

Leading Brexiteer Mr Farage hailed her candidacy as “great news”, saying the party would be a “stronger alliance” as a result.

The news comes after new centrist party Change UK announced its 70-strong slate of candidates, including Rachel Johnson, Boris Johnson’s sister, former Tory health secretary Stephen Dorrell and ex-BBC Newsnight presenter Gavin Esler.

Ms Widdecombe, a loyal Conservative for 55 years, told the Express: “I am hoping the Brexit Party sweeps to victory on 23 May because that will send a very clear message to both parties.

“If Labour loses the heartlands and the Conservatives lose the shires the message will be very simple: we want you to just get on with it.

“I haven’t met anyone who is not fed up with this whole sorry saga. I really thought my time in politics was over and done with but I felt compelled to step up.

“I will be voting Conservative in the local elections and I remain a member of the party but when central office reads this I expect they will kick me out. And if that happens, then so be it.”

She went on: “Parliament is an absolute parody, we are an international laughing stock and we are getting nowhere so the public needs to send a very clear message and that is we expect the vote to be respected so just get on with the job of getting us out of the EU.

“If I am elected when I arrive in Brussels my message to [Jean-Claude] Juncker and company will be very simple, very loud and very clear: nous allons [we go].”

Ms Widdecombe was elected to represent Maidstone in 1987, going on to become a home office minister under John Major. After the Labour landslide in 1997, she became shadow health secretary, and later shadow home secretary.

Known for her socially conservative views, she opposed legalising abortion as well as equality legislation such as same-sex adoption and civil partnerships. She also said she felt “alienated” by gay marriage.

She joins Annunziata Rees-Mogg, sister of Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, on the Brexit Party candidates list.