Conservative grandee Ann Widdecombe quits Tories to stand for Nigel Farage's Brexit Party
Conservative grandee Ann Widdecombe has quit the Tories to run as a candidate for Nigel Farage's new Brexit Party.
The former minister revealed that she had put her retirement on hold to help fire a "very loud warning shot" at Theresa May over the the way Britain's exit from the European Union has been handled so far.
Ms Widdecombe - who was a Tory MP for more than two decades and served as a minister in John Major's government - will stand for the Brexit Party in South West England if next month's European elections go ahead as planned.
She told the Daily Express: "In early May I shall do what I have always done since I first got the vote fifty years ago, and put my cross by the Conservative candidate in the local elections - but a couple of weeks later on May 23 I shall do what I have never done and cast my vote for a different party.
"Nay, I am going further than that: I am standing for the Brexit Party in order that I may campaign vigorously and convince my fellow voters that this time it is imperative to fire a very loud warning shot across the bows of the parties they normally support."
The new blow for the Prime Minister comes after a Conservative MP stood by her decision to heap praise on the "fantastic" candidates picked to run for the new Brexit Party, which polls suggest could humiliate the Tories in the EU-wide poll.
Backbencher Lucy Allan told PoliticsHome that party loyalties would be “eclipsed” by Brexit at the ballot box.
And she added: "It’s good to see strong candidates in the Leave camp.
"However, I sincerely hope we leave the EU before these elections are held so that we can move on and not waste time and money on unnecessary EU elections."
The Brexit Party on Tuesday revealed that Television pundit and former Revolutionary Communist Party member Claire Fox would be standing as a candidate in the May poll, alongside ex-soldier James Glancy, charity boss Matthew Patten, former nurse Christina Jordan and salmon exporter Lance Forman.
The announcements followed the unveiling earlier this month of Annunziata Rees-Mogg, the former Conservative candidate and sister of Tory arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, as a candidate.
Mr Farage said: "This is about changing politics for good, changing the shape of our political parties."