Published: 06:00, 26 September 2019
| Updated: 09:24, 27 September 2019
Former Kent MP Ann Widdecombe says she thought long and hard before deciding to take part in a Brexit party rally in her old constituency.
Ms Widdecombe will appear alongside Nigel Farage at a rally being held at the Kent Event Centre tonight for the party she defected to in April.
She put retirement on hold when she agreed to stand as a candidate for the Brexit Party in the EU election in May and was elected as an MEP for the South West region.
Her defection led - unsurprisingly - to her expulsion from the Conservative party after 55 years.
Her visit to Maidstone is her first under different political colours to the constituency she represented for two decades.
Speaking ahead of the rally at the Kent Event Centre, she described leaving the Conservative party as “the parting of friends”.
She said: “I knew what I was doing was right but I was still sad and nowhere do I feel that more keenly than in Maidstone where for two decades so many loyal Conservatives pounded the streets canvassing on my behalf and delivering leaflets to all hours and in all weathers.
"There is nobody whom I could less wish to desert.
“I thought long and hard about whether I should come to the Brexit Party rally in Maidstone, but it is here more than anywhere else that I want to make the case for Brexit and the Brexit Party and here more than anywhere else that I want to explain why I have done what I have done.”
She played down the forecasts of widespread disruption and gridlock, saying: “My own view is that chaos after a clean break will be like the millennium bug: dramatically dreaded but not manifest.”
More by this authorPaul Francis