MICHELLE Ballantyne is the leader of Scotland's newest political party, it has been announced.

The former Conservative MSP has been revealed as the new Scottish leader of the re-launched Brexit party, Reform UK Scotland.

Speaking this morning, the MSP for South Scotland 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."

HeraldScotland:

Richard Tice, former MEP and Chairman of Reform UK, said the UK was like "one big family" at a virtual launch this morning.

He 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 quit the Scottish Conservatives last year, after failing in her bid to become the party leader. She lost out to Jackson Carlaw, before he quit and was replaced with current Moray MP Douglas Ross.

Speaking this morning, Ms Ballantyne issued a call for "angry" members of the public who wanted to stand in the upcoming Holyrood elections in May to apply to her new party. 

She said the party was not looking for "career politicians" and wanted candidates "with experience of life, people who can bring real solutions to real problems".

She added: "This is a chance for those of you who've been banging the drum, who are angry about what's going on and who think they can make a difference for their country, to come forward."