Political returns Familiar faces to the fore in European vote
THERE were two political comebacks in the European elections as an ex-cheltenham MP and a former Conservative Minister were elected as MEPS to represent Gloucestershire and the South West.
The remarkable political journey of Cheltenham Liberal Democrat Martin Horwood continued.
From national politics as a former MP for Cheltenham (2005-15), he lost to Conservative Alex Chalk in two general elections (2015 and 2017) before being elected to Cheltenham Borough Council.
He has now bounced on to the international stage as the Lib Dems won two seats in the South West with the Brexit Party gaining three and the Greens retaining their seat in the region.
Cheltenham was the only district in Gloucestershire where the Lib Dems got the biggest share of the vote.
The Brexit Party mirrored their national success by topping the poll in the South West.
But there was a strong showing by the pro-remain Lib Dems and Greens.
Mr Horwood tweeted: “So, Lib Dems, Greens and Change UK beat Brexit Party and UKIP in the popular vote across the South West.
“Not such a Leave region now, eh?”
Joining him as an MEP is former Tory Ann Widdecombe who left politics, went on Strictly Come Dancing and threw herself back into frontline politics by joining Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party.
She said: “It wasn’t so much duty calling, it was duty howling at me to do this because I couldn’t believe the mess that was being made in Westminster.”
She said she wanted a ‘clean Brexit,’ saying Britain could put more pressure
on the EU.
But she added: “I’m not interested in their further concessions, I want a clean Brexit and that is where we’ve got to put our pressure.” Molly Scott-cato is returning to Brussels representing the Green Party.
She said: “The huge increase in the Green vote where we beat the votes of Labour and the Conservatives combined shows that people across the region are disillusioned with two-party politics and are turning to the Greens because of our passion for Europe and our determination to stop Brexit through a People’s vote.” Gloucester Councillor Tom Coole (Labour, Matson and Robinswood), who was acting as an agent, said that he was disappointed with Labour’s decreased support.
He said: “Obviously, this was going to be a really tough election for all the major parties - particularly Labour and Conservatives - because the situation is so tumultuous in Westminster.
“I think people are fed up with the situation and I think people want to draw it to a close in some way.
“What that way is, I think is perhaps a bit more uncertain.
“I think there is an increasing trend towards other parties away from the main two parties as a protest vote because they don’t feel the politicians in Westminster are getting on with it and that’s what they have certainly been saying to me.”
Anne Widdecombe and, inset, Molly Scottcato