Change UK interim leader Heidi Allen says that a vote for their party in Wales at the European Elections won’t necessarily divide the Remain vote in Wales and lead to the loss of Wales’ only Remain MEP, Plaid Cymru’s Jill Evans.
The MP for South Cambridgeshire, formerly with the Conservative Party, Heidi Allen was talking to Guto Harri, political journalist and presenter of S4C’s current affairs show ‘Y Byd yn ei Le’ after the Change UK rally in Cardiff on Monday night.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage may have refused to take part in a live TV debate with Change UK interim leader Heidi Allen ahead of the European elections – but they will both appear, interviewed separately, on the programme on S4C tonight, Thursday, 16 May, with English subtitles available.
The programme, at 9.30pm will also include interviews with the leaders of all the other main parties in Wales and hear the opinions of people in the Llyn Peninsula about the European Elections and Brexit.
Heidi Allen, leading a party that was only formally established four weeks ago, admits that they have faced a huge challenge getting themselves organised and gathering momentum in time for these European Elections on 23 May.
“We are hoping to convince people that there is an alternative to Brexit,” she said. “This is not a fait accompli, there is time to change this around.
“Take the Labour Party, which is very strong in Wales, the Labour Party is a Brexit party because Jeremy Corbyn is a Brexiteer. It’s heartbreaking but it is true and we are asking particularly Labour voters to lend us your vote for this election.”
And she added that a vote for Change UK would not necessarily divide the Remain vote in Wales.
Heidi Allen, who spoke some Welsh in the Cardiff launch, said, “Yes, it’s to do with the number of MEPs but it’s also about how many votes that we get for Remain across the country as a whole. There are people who vote for us who would not necessarily have voted for Plaid Cymru, it’s those votes we are hoping to attract as well.”
Taking a dig as Nigel Farage, she said, that unlike the Brexit Party, Change UK, was not a one issue party, but we’re developing a whole raft of policies to show that they were there for the long haul.
“Unlike the Brexit Party…we have to be a party for the whole country, and I’m proud to have been able to learn a bit of Welsh; when you go to somebody else’s home you should be able to respect to where you have arrived and try to be as friendly and welcoming, that’s just the kind of person I am.
“But we have to prove, and there is a big job to be done, that we can be a party for the whole of the UK.”
Nigel Farage, being interviewed at Caerphilly in a Witherspoon’s pub, said that he had changed his mind and returned to active politics for the people of Wales and the UK to make sure that Westminster delivers on “the will of the people” and leaves the European Union.
“After 25 years of fighting for Brexit, I am not going to be rolled over by deceitful career politicians, I’m going to fight back,” he said.
“What is interesting is this, we are just three weeks into forming this new party, and look at the numbers, look at the polls, we are doing well. There is an appetite for something very different.”
And the former leader of UKIP, who left that party because his belief that their policies’ had become ha become racist and Islamophobic, said that his party was in it for the long haul.
“Anybody who says that this is just a European election and after that everything will revert to normal are deluding themselves, something fundamental is happening here, politics is broken and millions of people are seeing that,” he said.
“We will win on 23 May and will use that as a springboard to get better, more competent people into Parliament. This lot don’t represent us, they are no good at what they do and they have betrayed the trust of voters.”
He added that he didn’t know when the UK would be leaving the EU but said “What I do know is that if the Brexit Party didn’t exist, we wouldn’t [be leaving], with us, we will. I just don’t know how long it will take.”
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