Leader of Scotland’s Reform UK party Michelle Ballantyne quits after a year

Former MSP Michelle Ballantyne told The Herald she was taking a step back from politics to focus on a multi million pound restoration project in Selkirk.

Ms Ballantyne stood for leadership of the Scottish Conservatives in February 2020, losing out to Jackson Carlaw, before leaving the party entirely that November, remaining an independent MSP for South Scotland.

HeraldScotland: Richard Tice, left, current leader of Reform UK, and Nigel Farage who founded the Brexit PartyRichard Tice, left, current leader of Reform UK, and Nigel Farage who founded the Brexit Party

Six weeks later, in January 2021, it was announced that Ms Ballantyne was to become leader of Reform UK Scotland, the Scottish arm of the relaunched ‘Brexit’ party started by Nigel Farage in 2018. She lost her Holyrood seat in the May 2021 poll.

Now Reform UK has been left without a Scottish leader as it tries to drum up support for the upcoming council elections, where it hopes to stand candidates across the country.

READ MORE: Scotland’s Brexit MSP Michelle Ballantyne on vaccines, independence and school meals

Eight regional organisers are to be appointed to campaign for the party across Scotland, with “active recruitment” of council candidates now underway, the party said.

Ms Ballantyne explained that she was working on the restoration of the Haining House and estate in Selkirk, which meant she was not currently getting involved in politics.

She said: “I am the Trustee and CEO of The Haining in Selkirk which is run voluntarily for the benefit of the people.

“We are currently underway with the renovation of the mansion house as well as completing the improvement of the grounds – 160 acres – and implementation of the business sustainability plan that I wrote at the beginning of the pandemic.

“Needless to say it’s a big job and the funders wanted reassurance of my commitment and time so I felt that it was important to focus my energies for a while, so I have stood down from leadership of Reform UK Scotland.”

READ MORE: New Scottish Brexit party launches in Scotland…and already has an MSP

Richard Tice, the current Reform UK leader, paid tribute to the former Scottish leader, saying; “ On behalf of the whole party, I want to wish Michelle well for the future and give enormous thanks for her hard work and efforts during her time with Reform.”

He also announced confirmed economist Ewen Stewart will remain as the Reform UK Chairman for Scotland while Martyn Greene has been appointed Scottish Campaign Director.

Mr Stewart currently runs the Global Britain think tank, as well as consultancy firm Walbrook Economics, while Mr Green stood unsuccessfully in the South Scotland list for Holyrood in May last year.

Mr Tice added: “We continue to be incredibly lucky to have such strength and depth within our Scottish ranks and I wish our team every success in the campaigns that lie ahead.”

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