FORMER Tory MSP Michelle Ballantyne has stepped down as the head of the Reform Party in Scotland, reports say.

Ballantyne quit the Scottish Tories in November 2020 before taking on the job as the leader of Nigel Farage’s party, which was originally founded as the Brexit party.

And now, the former MSP said she is quitting her role in politics to focus on a multimillion-pound restoration of The Haining country house and estate in Selkirk – of which she is a trustee and chief executive officer.

READ MORE: 'Hard to imagine' UK won't honour Scots' pension rights post-indy

Ballantyne said: “I am the Trustee and CEO of The Haining in Selkirk which is run voluntarily for the benefit of the people.

“We are currently under way with the renovation of the mansion house as well as completing the improvement of the grounds – 160 acres – and implementation of the business sustainability plan that I wrote at the beginning of the pandemic.

“Needless to say it’s a big job and the funders wanted reassurance of my commitment and time so I felt that it was important to focus my energies for a while, so I have stood down from leadership of Reform UK Scotland.”

Ballantyne became an MSP in 2017 after fellow Tory Rachael Hamilton vacated her regional list seat to fight a by-election.

The National:

Ballantyne, left, with Carlaw, right, who won the Tory leadership in 2020

She soon became a controversial figure with comments such as suggesting people on benefits should not have as many children as they want.

It later emerged Ballantyne, who has six children, had accepted child benefits, but not the benefits many others receive.

She refused to back down or apologise for the comments.

In early 2020, she was defeated by Jackson Carlaw in her bid for the leadership of the party north of the Border.

READ MORE: What are European countries doing to tackle the cost of living crisis?

By November that year, she had quit the party. She sat in Holyrood as an independent until she lost her seat in 2021.

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”.

Ballantyne became leader of Reform UK in January 2021.