NIGEL Farage’s right-wing party has come under fire for seeking to harness support among critics of lockdown by launching an attack on a “Holyrood consensus” around restrictions to tackle the coronavirus crisis.

Richard Tice, the UK chair of the Reform Party, which changed its name last week from the Brexit Party, is to lead an online press conference this morning to introduce its Scottish leader.

Ahead of the event, the party said why the event was “to announce some exciting new developments on the Scottish political scene”.

It continued: “Currently, Scottish politics is dominated by parties that fail to defend the interests of millions of Scots who are uncomfortable with the consensus in Holyrood of a wide range of issues, in particular the Scottish Government’s handling of the Covid crisis, but also in many of its other devolved responsibilities.”

A second note added the event would be to introduce the leader of Reform UK Scotland.

Keith Brown, SNP depute leader, said: “The Reform Party and its toxic brand of politics is not welcome here in Scotland. Voters north of the border rejected the right wing isolationism of UKIP and The Brexit Party and I am confident that they reject this lot too.”

Lorna Slater, Scottish Greens co-leader responded: “The Brexit Party may have changed its name to Reform, but it’s still the same Trump supporters in charge.

“This is the same far-right party with new branding and this time they are promoting dangerous coronavirus conspiracies.

“The people of Scotland have repeatedly rejected Nigel Farage’s parties in all their forms, and his Brexit project too, and I’m confident that they’ll comprehensively reject him once again in May.”

Responding to the criticisms, Tice said: "History shows we only make progress by challenging the status quo, the consensus. If we don’t have challenge and open debate then we live in a one-party dictatorship and no progress is ever made".

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Last night there was speculation former Tory MSPs Michelle Ballantyne and Brian Monteith may get prominent roles. Ballantyne quit the Tories over its “positioning on policy and, indeed, its principles” and later attacked her former party for agreeing with the Scottish Government’s lockdown plans.

She later said the final straw “was watching fellow Tories line up behind Nicola Sturgeon to put half of Scotland into level 4 lockdown” with “scant regard for jobs, social isolation and risking deaths not directly linked to Covid-19”.

She did not respond to The National’s request about whether she would be standing as a candidate for the Reform Party.

Monteith is a former Brexit Party MEP for Scotland.

The press conference today comes five months ahead of the Scottish Parliament election due in May.

However, there has been some discussion about whether the ballot should be delayed because of the pandemic. Former First Minister Henry McLeish yesterday called for a postponement. The Reform Party does not back a delay, with a source telling us: “There shouldn’t be."

McLeish told the Sunday Post council resources needed to be focused on dealing with the pandemic. “First, people are focused on the pandemic. They’re concerned, worried, losing loved ones.

“The country, in my view, is certainly not ready for an election,” he said. “Secondly, elections need organisation. This will involve the Scottish Parliament and local authorities. The local authorities are in a war just now dealing with the implications of Covid-19.

“One questions whether manpower and resources should be focused on an election.

“The third issue is the question of campaigning. In Scotland we still continue the tradition of doorstep campaigning. That’s impossible at the present time.

“In elections the public and the media have the chance to question the politicians. That requires contact and is also impossible right now.

“The government and the political parties need to get together now to look ahead, not leave it to the last minute.”