UKIP vows concrete plans as party bids for first MP

June 02, 2014 - 1:17:55 am

LONDON: British eurosceptic leader Nigel Farage said yesterday that UKIP would flesh out its domestic programme for the 2015 general election after his anti-EU, anti-immigration party topped the European Parliament elections.

Farage said the United Kingdom Independence Party would set out its manifesto at its annual conference, which would include tax cuts and selective schools. He also said he hoped to forge a eurosceptic wedge in the European Parliament that would sit between the main left and right blocs.

Farage is targeting “two or three dozen” seats at the May 2015 general election where he feels UKIP has the best chance of making a breakthrough under the first-past-the-post system and getting into parliament.

The party hopes to get its first MP on Thursday, when voters in the central England town of Newark go to the polls to elect their representative after Conservative incumbent Patrick Mercer resigned over paid lobbying claims.

Tory candidate Robert Jenrick is odds-on favourite to defend his party’s 16,000 majority, but Farage is optimistic his candidate Roger Helmer can cause a shock, saying latest polls “underestimate us”.

“If last Sunday (European elections) was an earthquake, UKIP winning here on Thursday would be a Krakatoa,” he said. “It would be absolutely massive. “If we win, we won’t be thinking of just retaining this at the general election, we would be thinking of getting a lot of people elected.”

Besides sucking up votes in Conservative territory in southern England, UKIP is also targeting working-class voters in Labour areas in the north.

UKIP’s conference will be held in Doncaster, northern England, where Labour leader Ed Miliband has his constituency.

“Our biggest tax objective in that next manifesto will be no tax on the minimum wage. We’ve got to incentivise people to get off benefits and get back into work,” Farage told BBC television.

“I think a top rate of tax in the country of about 40 percent is the one that will bring the most revenue into the exchequer. “Anything over 40 and you start to see people going overseas.”

His controversial plans to bring back selective schools would see pupils being streamed and sent to different schools according to their exam results.