Mark Reckless MS has defected from the Brexit Party to the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party in the Senedd.
Former leader of the Brexit Party group in the Senedd, Reckless was previously elected as a member of UKIP on the South Wales East regional list at the 2016 Assembly Elections. In 2017, he left the UKIP group in the Senedd to join the Conservatives.
Following a fall out over the party’s inability to deliver Brexit, Reckless once again left the Conservatives and sat independently, before forming a Brexit Party group of politicians in 2019.
Given Reckless was a Conservative MP before joining the Senedd, this makes his defection to Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party his fifth since first being elected to public office in 2010.
Upon joining the party – which thus far has had limited electoral success in Wales, given its two politicians in the Senedd were elected after standing under different parties – Reckless said he was doing so “to help give those opposed to devolution a proper voice”.
“Devolution has until now only ever been one way, with more and more powers devolved. Now they are even enforcing a border with England [with the Covid travel ban].
“Next year we could see income tax rise just in Wales under new powers,” said Mr Reckless.
Formed in 2015, the Abolish the Welsh Assembly had no success at the 2016 Welsh Assembly elections, where it won 4.4% of the list votes, and giving it no seats in the Senedd.
Despite this, the party has two Members of the Senedd (including Mark Reckless). The other member is Gareth Bennett, another former UKIP member, who defected earlier this year. Bennett has previously been called “the Donald Trump of Wales”.
In addition to its two representatives in the Senedd, the party has just one local council position of Wales’ 1,253.
They will, no doubt, be looking to capitalise on their recent defections at the Senedd elections, which are currently scheduled for May. But despite the party’s optimism, the latest polling data shows that only four parties are predicted to return to the Senedd: Labour, the Welsh Conservatives, Plaid Cyrmu and the Welsh Liberal Democrats.
Defection number five
Mark Reckless previously successfully stood for the Conservatives in the 2001 and 2005 General Elections. He was later elected in the Labour-held seat of Rochester and Strood in 2010.
During his time in the House of Commons, he was seen as a somewhat rebellious member of the House, casting numerous votes against the party whips.
He later also crossed the floor of the Commons to join UKIP and won a by-election on 2014. However, it was later beaten by the Conservative candidate at the 2015 election, losing his seat.
Reckless was criticised early in his parliamentary tenure for being “too drunk to vote” at the 2010 budget.
The MS for South Wales East’s defection means the Brexit Party no longer has any representation in the Senedd chamber.
The news also came in the same week that former Caroline Jones, David Rowlands, and Mandy Jones came together to create the Independent Alliance for Reform. The group reportedly wants to change the way devolution works in the Senedd.
The make-up of the Senedd is now as follows:
⚪ Independent and Independent Alliance for Reform: 5
🟢 Plaid Cymru: 10
🔴 Labour: 29
🟡 Liberal Democrat: 1
🟢 Welsh National Party: 1
🟤 Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party: 2
🔵 The Welsh Conservatives: 11
🟣 UKIP: 1
Despite this week’s Senedd drama, this could all change, of course, since the Senedd elections are now just six months away. That is, of course, providing they aren’t delayed.twitter Follow @gairrhyddpol for all of the latest updates from the world of politics. Politics Morgan Perry