Reckless quits Tory group, amid speculation that Brexit Party is recruiting AMs

Mark Reckless has left the Conservative group in the Assembly, just over two years after he left UKIP to join it, causing a major rift in Tory ranks at the time. He never actually applied to become a member of the party itself -and almost certainly would not have been allowed back after his defection to UKIP when he was a Conservative MP.

He announced his latest change of allegiance on Twitter.

Mr Reckless recently attended a Brexit Party rally in Newport, fuelling speculation that he will soon be in a new group. It's understood that Nigel Farage's new party is in talks with several AMs who are -or were- in UKIP.

When Mark Reckless joined the Conservative group, it became the official opposition in the Assembly by gaining an extra AM, putting it ahead of Plaid Cymru. But the Tories will keep that status because Plaid has since lost two AMs -Neil McEvoy and Dafydd Elis-Thomas, who both now sit as independents.

The Welsh Conservative leader when Mr Reckless joined the group was Andrew RT Davies, who saw becoming the official opposition as an important step. Others, notably the Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns, were unwilling to forgive the former MP for his defection to UKIP but the Welsh Tories put the rift behind them when Theresa May called a snap General Election.

Their present group leader, Paul Davies, has issued a generously-worded statement about the departure of Mark Reckless.

Mark Reckless himself is making no further comment today but further developments are expected tomorrow, when Nigel Farage is due to visit Wales.