Michelle Ballantyne MSP: who is the new Scotland leader of Nigel Farage's political party Reform UK?

Nigel Farage, formerly of UKIP and the Brexit Party, said his new party was “up and running” in Scotland

Michelle Ballantyne has been named as the Scottish leader of Reform UK (Getty Images)
Michelle Ballantyne has been named as the Scottish leader of Reform UK (Getty Images)

The Scottish branch of Nigel Farage’s new political party has a new leader – Michelle Ballantyne.

The former Conservative MSP, who once ran for Scottish Conservatives leader, described the new party as being “pro Scotland and pro the UK”, adding that it was “simply the best choice for the people of these islands”.

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Following the announcement Ballantyne appealed to unionists and nationalists to throw support behind her new party at he 2021 Scottish Parliament elections.

She said: “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.

“Reform UK Scotland will champion personal choice, community response and local networks. Our policies will reflect these values and respect the basic rights of freedom of thought, speech and worship.”

Who is Michelle Ballantyne?

Born in Ashton-under-Lyne, Ballantyne moved with her husband and young family to the Scottish Borders in 1990.

She worked in social care and as a nurse during her early career, while completing an honors degree at Heriot Watt University.

Before her move into local politics Ballantyne worked as the head of a specialist drug and alcohol support independent charity.

Ballantyne was elected to Scottish Borders Council, where she served as Leader of the Conservative Group, earning re-election in March 2017.

In May 2017 Michelle became a list MSP for the South Scotland region, covering Midlothian South, Tweeddale, Lauderdale and East Lothian, while retaining her council seat, though she has since stood down from her council seat.

As a Conservative MSP Ballantyne Shadow Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation and Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Social Security.

What has Michelle Ballantyne said?

Speaking about the party – which intends to field candidates on the regional list section of May’s Holyrood election – Ms Ballantyne said: “We are pro Scotland and pro the UK because we believe it is simply the best choice for the people of these islands. Why? Because it is the most successful union ever created.

“It has served us well for over 300 years and never so well as in the last few months as the combined power of the Union has brought us financial aid and the first and fastest vaccination programme in Europe.”

Speaking about the Covid-19 pandemic, she added: “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. Here are a few reminders: Curriculum for excellence; Edinburgh Sick Kids Hospital; NHS Waiting times targets; BiFAb; Ferguson Shipyards; Prestwick Airport.

“It is clear to many of us that government and service delivery in Scotland needs reforming. Scotland needs a reform party.”

She stated: “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.

“Reform UK Scotland will champion personal choice, community response and local networks. Our policies will reflect these values and respect the basic rights of freedom of thought, speech and worship.”