Ann Widdecombe: Former Tory MP to stand for Brexit Party

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Media caption,
Ann Widdecombe: 'Whole nation fed up to back teeth'

Former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe has announced she is set to return to politics - for the Brexit Party.

Ms Widdecombe, 71, said she would still vote Conservative in the upcoming local elections but would stand as a candidate for Nigel Farage's new party in the European elections.

She said she wanted to "fire a very loud warning shot across the bows" of the established parties.

The former shadow home secretary has been retired since 2010.

Ms Widdecombe told BBC News she was standing out of "total frustration" and to show Parliament to "get on with it" or see their seats "in danger".

She added: "Britain is an international laughing stock. Parliament is beyond parody, and the whole nation is fed up to the back teeth and just wants a resolution.

"I believe that if the Brexit Party can make enormous gains in the European elections and win overwhelmingly, that will send shockwaves - both in Labour heartlands and in Tory shires.

"It will make MPs rethink what they are doing as it will be a big reaffirmation of the people's vote."

Ann Widdecombe, a timeline

Image caption,
Ann Widdecombe appeared in the 2010 series of Strictly Come Dancing
  • 1987 - Elected as Conservative MP for Maidstone
  • 1994 - Made a minister in the Department of Employment
  • 1995 - Becomes a minister in the Home Office
  • 1998 - Appointed shadow health secretary
  • 1999 - Appointed shadow home secretary
  • 2010 - Retires from politics but continues to write
  • 2010 - Appears on BBC's Strictly Come Dancing
  • 2018 - Finishes as the runner-up in Celebrity Big Brother
  • 2019 - Announces decision to stand as an MEP candidate for the Brexit Party

The UK has been given an extension to the Brexit process until 31 October, meaning participation in the European elections on 23 May looks likely.

In addition to Mr Farage's new venture, Change UK - formerly The Independent Group - launched its European election campaign in Bristol on Tuesday.

Interim leader Heidi Allen said Change UK was "the home of the Remain alliance".

Meanwhile, cross-party talks between the government and Labour, aimed at forging a common way forward on Brexit, are continuing amid recriminations at the slow pace of progress.

Prime Minister Theresa May's official spokesman said that while the discussions with Labour were "serious" they were proving "difficult" in some areas, and that progress was needed "urgently" to enable Britain to leave the EU as soon as possible.

Labour, however, put the blame for lack of progress on the government's refusal to shift on its "red lines".

Who is standing in the European elections?

Image source, PA

The European Parliamentary elections are expected to take place in the UK on 23 May - if the UK has not left the EU by that date.

The UK is divided into 11 regions and parties can put forward a list of candidates for each one.

The deadline for nominations for candidates is 16:00 BST on Wednesday 24 April for the South West Region (including Gibraltar) and 16:00 on Thursday 25 for all other candidates.

But the lists of candidates announced so far include: