Video re-emerges of Ann Widdecombe telling Tories to stop obsessing about Europe

PUBLISHED: 11:13 05 July 2019 | UPDATED: 11:21 05 July 2019

Ann Widdecombe appears on the BBC in 1997. Photograph: BBC/Twitter.

Ann Widdecombe appears on the BBC in 1997. Photograph: BBC/Twitter.

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A video has re-emerged of the former Conservative minister and Brexit Party MEP telling the Tories to stop obsessing about Europe.

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Speaking in a report from the BBC's Michael Crick, she said: "Well the one thing I don't want us to do is to get bogged down in Europe.

"I think we have overplayed the Europe issue.

"Strands of the party have become obsessed by Europe.

"We are not in charge of the European agenda for the next five years, I think it's time now that we looked on those sorts of policies which the people expect to hear from us.

Ann Widdecombe and Nigel Farage pose ahead of the European Elections.  (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)Ann Widdecombe and Nigel Farage pose ahead of the European Elections. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

"Which is good sound economic policies, caring policies, but also the imagination which Ken Clarke showed when he reformed the NHS, when he reformed education. Real new ideas, let's have that."

The clip was part of a 1997 report on the Tory leadership contest in which William Hague was elected leader shortly after the party's defeat in the general election.

In the election Widdecombe backed pro-European candidate Ken Clarke, but he was defeated by William Hague.

It is a far cry from modern day Widdecombe, who ditched the Conservative Party for a party that has the sole purpose of leaving the European Union, and which did not even promote a manifesto. A move that was supported by Widdecombe ahead of the European elections.

She was criticised for her first speech in the European parliament where she compared the Brexiteers' fight to slaves fighting against their owners.

Ann Widdecombe. Photograph: European Parliament.Ann Widdecombe. Photograph: European Parliament.

She told MEPs: "If I needed any convincing at all that the best thing for Britain is to leave here as soon as possible, it was the way those elections were conducted yesterday.

"If that is this place's idea of democracy, that is a serious betrayal of every country that is represented here."

"That is just one of many reasons why Britain is right to be leaving this place, hopefully on Halloween.

"It is right because there is pattern consistent throughout the history of oppressed people turning on the oppressors. Slaves against their owners, the peasantry against the feudal barons. Colonies, Mr Verhofstadt, against their empires and that is why Britain is leaving."

MORE: Ann Widdecombe given European parliament locker she can't reach

MORE: Lib Dem MEP applauded for telling parliament that Brexit is not inevitable

Critics of her speech included Labour MP Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, who tweeted: "It is disgusting that Ann Widdecombe would reference slavery and colonisation to describe our relationship with the EU. Her and Farage are bankrolled by elites - she's part of the establishment which has created such a divide in this country."

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