Ballantyne named Scottish leader of Reform UK party
The Nigel Farage-led political party Reform UK has announced South Scotland list MSP Michelle Ballantyne as its leader north of the border.
It was known previously as The Brexit Party until it was granted use of its new name by the Electoral Commission last week.
Speaking at a virtual media conference Richard Tice, former MEP and chairman of Reform UK, said: “There is no need for any referendum for a generation – far better that existing powers, including those repatriated from the EU are used to better effect than create further bitter division between Scots and within the UK.
“There is always a need to consider how we improve the accountability and governance of our political decisions.
“Be it Westminster and Whitehall or Holyrood and Victoria Quay, the political class can become detached from the people they are paid to serve.
“We have seen this magnified by the Covid crisis with shocking levels of incompetence and centralised bureaucracy making our response so much poorer than it should have been.
“By all means let’s have a grown up debate about what reforms will make genuine improvements – such as devolving from Holyrood down to communities – but all within the context of the solidarity and security of the United Kingdom.”
Ms Ballantyne, who quit the Conservatives in November and had been sitting as an independent, said: “We are pro Scotland and pro the UK because we believe it is simply the best choice for the people of these islands.
“The Union has served us well for over 300 years and never so well as in the last few months its combined power brought us financial aid and the first and fastest vaccination programme in Europe.
“Scotland needs an exit strategy not just out of Covid but to recover from lockdowns. Children need to get back to school, healthcare needs to fully open and human beings need to be able to interact socially.
“But we must not forget that even before Covid struck there were deep rooted problems within the public sector services in Scotland.
“It is clear to many of us that Government and service delivery in Scotland needs reforming. Scotland needs a reform party.”
Reform UK Scotland will be standing candidates in the regional lists of the forthcoming Scottish Parliament elections.
Ms Ballantyne added: “We will make the positive case for the Union but I would also say to those who dream of an independent Scotland that without an economically strong base and a public sector that is both affordable and effective your dream will deliver chaos to the things you value.
“Unionists and Nationalists can and must come together now for the shared goal of rebuilding Scotland.”