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  1. ITV Report

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

Mark Reckless joined the Conservative group in the Assembly without actually joining the party Credit: PA

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.

I’d like to thank Mark for his valuable contribution as a part of the Welsh Conservative Group in the Assembly over the last two years and his ability to thoroughly challenge the record of this failing Welsh Labour Government.

Mark worked with the Welsh Conservative Group because of our continued unity in the Welsh Assembly, our commitment to delivering Brexit and our focus on tackling this failing Welsh Labour Government who have taken the people of Wales for granted over the last 20 years.

As the Official Opposition in the Assembly we will continue to hold the Welsh Labour Government to account. I appreciate there are strong views on Brexit but our commitment is clear – Wales and the rest of the United Kingdom must leave the European Union.

– Welsh Conservative Leader Paul Davies AM

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