A GROUP of four AMs - including two from Gwent - have joined forces with Nigel Farage's new Brexit Party.

Mark Reckless and David Rowlands - who both represent South Wales East - along with South Wales West's Caroline Jones and North Wales' Mandy Jones all announced they had signed up with Mr Farage's new party on Wednesday.

All four were initially elected to the Assembly in 2016 on Ukip's regional lists, but Mr Reckless, Caroline Jones and Mandy Jones all left the party over the past three years. And yesterday it was announced Mr Rowlands had joined them and they had banded together to form a new Brexit Party group in the Assembly, with Mr Reckless as its leader.

Mr Farage visited the Senedd to welcome the four to his new party - which was only officially registered as a political party last month - on Wednesday.

Speaking at the event he said: "It's very unfortunate the party they were elected for has moved in a direction that is wholly unacceptable and had disintegrated.

"They’ve effectively been left homeless and I am happy to give them a home."


He added: "We've brought the right people back together again in the family, those who are capable of showing unity, of putting the cause above their own ambitions."

Explaining his decision to leave Ukip, Mr Rowlands said he had been unhappy with the direction the party had taken and the way its campaign in the Newport West by-election in April was conducted.

South Wales Argus:

"In the by-election in Newport we had a candidate (Neil Hamilton) imposed on us by the NEC (National Executive Committee) - not that I had anything against the particular candidate, it's that they imposed it, I wasn’t consulted in any way," he said.

"I have been a key figure in South Wales East for many, many years and I felt that to be a slight I couldn’t take.

"So I haven’t gone out of Ukip - they’ve pushed me out of Ukip."

He added he believed the people who voted Ukip in 2016 would support him.

"This party represents what the people actually voted Ukip to do – to get us out of Europe," he said.

"I still believe I'm delivering what those people voted me in for."

This is the latest in a series of political defections from Mr Reckless, who was elected as a Conservative MP in 2010, but left to join Ukip in 2014, triggering a by-election, in which he retained his seat, only to lose it in the following year's General Election.

After almost a year as a Ukip AM he left the party to join the Assembly's Conservative group - although he did not rejoin the party.

And earlier this week he announced he had left the group in a protest over the UK Government's handling of Brexit.

Mr Reckless said he, too, believed those who voted Ukip in 2016 would support his decision.

"I think the majority of people who voted Ukip in 2016 voted Conservative in 2017," he said.

"The Conservatives said they were going to deliver Brexit, leave the customs union, leave the single market, leave the ECJ (European Court of Justice). Two hundred times Theresa May said we would leave on March 29 this year with or without a deal - I believed her and so did hundreds of thousands of people across south east Wales and they voted Conservative in quite large numbers in 2017. That is when I joined the Conservative group.

"Now they are leaving the Conservatives and backing the Brexit Party, so I am too."

This leaves Ukip with only two AMs - Mid and West Wales's Neil Hamilton and South Wales Central's Gareth Bennett - meaning they are officially de-recognised as an Assembly group.

Mr Bennett said he was "sorry and disappointed" Mr Rowlands had joined his colleagues in leaving Ukip, and Mr Hamilton called actions of the four AMs "pretty grubby behaviour".

The onus is now on presiding officer Elin Jones to grant - or otherwise - the group's request to form an official Assembly group.