The Newport West by-election on April 4 will be significant for a number of reasons - not least that it will see a new MP elected for the constituency for the first time since 1987. There are an unprecedented 11 candidates standing in the election, and, in the latest in a series of interviews, IAN CRAIG met Ukip's Neil Hamilton.

NEIL Hamilton is by far the biggest name in the Newport West by-election, and one anyone with even a passing interest in politics will know.

His days as a Conservative MP may be far behind him, but he never really left the limelight, and returned to elected politics in 2016, when he was elected as Ukip AM for Mid and West Wales.

And now he is making a bid to return to the institution he left in 1997, this time as Ukip MP for Newport West.


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Neil Hamilton is Ukip's candidate for the Newport West by-election

Perhaps unsurprisingly the main thrust of Mr Hamilton's campaign is for the result of the 2016 EU referendum to be fulfilled, and he said the by-election provided a chance to send a message to the UK Government over the state of the process.

"The future of the government one way or another is not going to turn on the result of this by-election, in the sense that one vote is not going to make the difference in the House of Commons," he said.

"What can make a difference is the kind of political cataclysm which it will create if neither Labour nor the Tories win this seat.

"I say to the people of Newport West - go on, be a devil, vote for me, make your vote really count for once.

"If you really think the prime minister is useless and the leader of the opposition is useless too, vote for something different to get rid of both of them."

Mr Hamilton said he would also campaign on cutting immigration, reducing Wales’ reliance on the public sector by encouraging entrepreneurship, reducing prices for food and fuel, as well as to scrap the Welsh Assembly - which was adopted by the party as a national policy earlier this week.

It was something of a surprise when Mr Hamilton was announced as Ukip's candidate for the by-election, and members of the party's local branch are said to be unhappy that he was picked over one of their own members.

For his part, Mr Hamilton said he was asked by the party's National Executive Committee to stand.

"The party took the view that I had more experience than anyone else in the country,” he said.

He added: "There's nothing in this for me really, apart from causing a political earthquake, which I hope to do – and because I’m addicted to campaigning.”

On the M4, which has become a key issue in the campaign, despite being devolved to the Welsh Government, Mr Hamilton said rather than an entirely new road, he would prefer to see a series of small "micro-measures" to tackle traffic problems when they are at their worst.

Despite being a member of the Welsh Assembly - a role he will be legally required to relinquish if he is elected as an MP - Mr Hamilton and his wife Christine live in Wiltshire. But he said he did not see a reason to move if he is successful in the by-election.

"What matters in any election is whether you elect someone who has got the ability to represent the constituency in the best way possible,” he said. “Where you live doesn’t seem to me to make much difference to that.

"Jim Callaghan was MP for Cardiff South East and he lived in Sussex, which is nowhere near as accessible.

"If I was MP for Newport West I would be totally dedicated to the city."

On his chances of success in the by-election, he said: “I am not saying I am the answer to everybody's prayers, but nevertheless a vote for Ukip in this election could make a fantastic difference to British politics because, if Ukip's vote rises very substantially, that will send an unmistakable message to the other parties which they can’t fail to notice.

"If Newport people want their concerns to be recognised by the establishment I think there is no better receptacle for their votes than Ukip."


Age: 70

Originally from: Fleur-de-Lis

Education: Went to Ammanford Grammar School and then studied economics and politics at Aberystwyth University at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. After studying his bar examinations in order to become a barrister, he studied a postgraduate law degree at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, specialising in European law and human rights law.

Professional background: Worked as a teacher while studying for his bar exams, then as a barrister specialising taxation, trust and property law.

Political background: As a Conservative, he unsuccessfully stood for Abertillery in the 1974 General Election and Bradford North in 1979. He was successful on his third attempt, when he was elected as MP for Tatton in 1983 - a seat he held until 1997. He was chief whip during Margaret Thatcher's final months as prime minister in 1990 and, under John Major, was chief whip and minister for deregulation and corporate affairs from April 1992 until October 1994. Joined Ukip in 2002 and unsuccessfully ran for Wandsworth London Borough Council in 2014. In 2016 he was elected as Mid and West Wales AM, and was elected as the party's leader in the Assembly. He was ousted in May 2018 and, in August the same year, unsuccessfully ran to regain this role.

Family: Married to Christine since June 1983.

Hobbies: Gardening, music, enjoying the countryside, travel.


- Jonathan Clark, Plaid Cymru

- June Davies, Renew

- Matthew Evans, Conservative

- Neil Hamilton, Ukip

- Ruth Jones, Labour

- Ryan Jones, Lib Dem

- Ian McLean, SDP

- Hugh Nicklin, For Britain

- Richard Suchorzewski, the Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party

- Phillip Taylor, Democrats and Veterans Party

- Amelia Womack, Green Party