Independent AM Neil McEvoy to launch new Welsh National Party

The independent Assembly Member Neil McEvoy is to launch a new party which he says will offer an alternative to Labour and Plaid Cymru and shake up the status quo.

He's been sitting in the Senedd as an independent since being expelled from Plaid Cymru in 2018. Last year he said he wouldn't try to rejoin.

Now the South Wales central AM has registered the name 'The Welsh National Party' and says he'll launch the new party formally in April.

He's told tonight's Sharp End programme that there's already been 'tremendous interest' and that the new party intends to field candidates in next year's Assembly election, but he refused to accept either of the labels 'left' or 'right.'

I asked him if he'll stand in Cardiff West - he will - and also as a list member as the rules allow. That'll be up to the members, he said.

I also asked him about the party's name. While it'll remind some of the Scottish National Party, it'll make others think about the British National Party. 'Certainly not,' he said, denying that it has any far-right echoes:

He describes it as a 'sovereignist' party which he said is about more than just national independence:

Neil McEvoy has been a controversial and divisive figure. He was suspended from Plaid Cymru's Assembly Group and eventually expelled from the party itself. He was suspended as a Cardiff councillor over bullying allegations. He fell foul of Assembly authorities by covertly recording the standards commissioner. And he's been in a long-running dispute with the Public Services Ombudsman.

When I put it to him that would-be supporters might fear he's not a team player, he said 'look at my track record: what I've always done is team-build and built multiple teams across Cardiff and we've increased turnout in elections.'

But what if this new party becomes hijacked by those controversies in which he's involved, making him a kind of Welsh George Galloway. He told me, 'I bump up against the Welsh establishment because I stand for and represent and give voice to the people who don’t have a voice... and that’s what the Welsh national party is about.'

You can watch the interview in this week's Sharp End at 1045pm or online later here.