Ann Widdecombe speaks at the Edinburgh International Book Festival

Former Conservative MP and Strictly Come Dancing participant, Ann Widdecombe, offered some strong advice to Scottish Tory Leader Ruth Davidson in her event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this afternoon. When asked by Ruth Wishart, who was chairing the talk, what advice she would give Davidson to encourage more Scots to vote Conservative, Widdecombe said she ‘should talk a lot about Independence and how bad it would be for Scotland.’

In an hour long conversation in front of a sell-out audience, Widdecombe discussed her politics, her faith and her time on the prime time BBC programme Strictly Come Dancing.

She admitted that being in the House of Lords was top of her wishlist once she had retired from being a Member of Parliament, however while she was disappointed that David Cameron had not wanted her in the Lords, she was not entirely surprised.

She also admitted that she had been on the point of accepting Cameron’s offer of the position of Ambassador to the Vatican, despite her concerns about representing the views and ideals of this Government, when she asked God for a sign. Commenting that she wished His answer hadn’t been quite so dramatic, she spoke of her fears for losing her sight when she suffered a detached retina, and her desire to be no further than 3 hours away from Moorfield Hospital during her recovery period.

Asked about her career on the dancefloor, she commented ‘Don’t you mean careering around the dance floor?’, and whether she was worried about becoming a figure of fun, Widdecombe said she had been asked to participate on the show every year for 5 years but was concerned that she couldn’t dance. She accepted once she had retired from politics – and when she had seen John Sergeant on the programme. Saying her core skills were entertaining not dancing, she admitted that within the first hour of training her partner, Anton du Beke, said ‘The less time you spend with your feet on the floor, the better.’ Widdecombe said that by week 10 of the programme she was beginning to worry that they might make it as far as the final but du Beke had it covered. ‘Anton was going to fly in from one side of the stage, and I was going to fly in from the other, and we were going to dance together - in the air.’

Following the programme, she went on to do the live tour, then into Panto with Craig Revel Horwood. To her surprise, her agent got a call from the casting team from the Royal Opera House who were in the audience one night asking Ann to perform at Covent Garden. Convinced it was a wind up Widdecombe was amused when the brief was read to her- a very rude autocratic lady. Not much acting required.

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