Former Tory MP Rod 'The Rottweiler' Richards Joins Ukip

Posted: Updated:
Print Article

A former Conservative MP dubbed the "The Rottweiler" by opponents hopes to bring plenty of bite to the UK Independence Party (Ukip).

Rod Richards - who was once the Tories' leader in the Welsh Assembly as a Wales Office Minister during John Major's government - today announced he had now joined Ukip.

The 66-year-old said he had become disillusioned with mainstream parties.

ukip
"I'm getting to know my new friends in Ukip"

Richards told BBC Wales: "My decision to join Ukip has come following 10 years of frustration watching the country I love going down the pan and the parties in charge seemingly doing nothing about it.

"I found more and more I was complaining about it and not doing something about it.

"I feel I have to get up and do something and I will give it my best shot."

Llanelli-born Richards has perhaps been one of the more colourful figures in Welsh politics over the past 20 years.

He was the MP for Clwyd North West between 1992 and 1997 - but was forced to quit a ministerial post in John Major's government over allegations about his private life.

In 1999, he was elected to the Welsh Assembly and chosen by the Tories to become their leader in Cardiff Bay.

However, his tenure as boss was a short one after he resigned amid allegations he attacked a young woman.

Richards was subsequently cleared of assault, but stood down as an AM in 2002 after admitting to problems with alcohol.

But although watching from the sidelines, the Swansea University graduate - whose combative political style earned him the "Rottweiler" nickname - has not been afraid to speak his mind.

LIKE HUFFPOST UK POLITICS ON FACEBOOK | FOLLOW US ON TWITTER

When his successor Nick Bourne lost his Assembly seat in 2011, Richards was quoted in the Western Mail as saying: "It has been a great week, Bin Laden (killed) on Sunday and Bourne on Friday."

After announcing his membership of Ukip, Richards said he believed the UK's membership of the European Union (EU) was "holding us back" and was preventing the country trading with others such as China and India.

However, he refused to be drawn on whether he wanted to seek Ukip's candidacy in the 2014 European Parliament election. Its current MEP for Wales, John Bufton, is standing down in June 2014.

Richards added: "I'm a new lad on the block.

"I'm getting to know my new friends in Ukip.

"But I'm certainly not someone who will only be putting a cross in the box. I shall be an active member."