Ukip win ‘would signal a landslide’


Published: Sunday 31st August 2014 by The News Editor

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Ukip leader Nigel Farage said a by-election win for his party in Clacton would signal a “landslide in British politics” as an opinion poll indicated that the Tories would face a humiliating defeat in the contest triggered by Douglas Carswell’s shock defection.

Mr Farage, who said the party was “testing the waters” with other potential turncoats – including from Labour – predicted Ukip could hold the balance of power in Parliament.

A Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday gave Ukip a massive 44 point lead over David Cameron’s party and Mr Farage predicted that a win would result in “more and more people coming over to us”.

The Clacton poll put Ukip on 64%, with Mr Carswell’s former party on 20%, Labour on 13% and the Lib Dems on 2%.

More than half of those asked favoured quitting the European Union, with 54% supporting a British exit and 26% opposed to cutting ties to Brussels.

In a sign of Mr Carswell’s popularity in the seat, more than a third (34%) of those indicating they would vote Ukip said it was because they liked their former Conservative MP, while 57% said it was because they liked Ukip and 9% said it would be a protest vote.

Among Tory voters, almost half (49%) said Mr Carswell was a hero despite his defection, with just 17% saying he was a traitor.

The poll of 700 voters – smaller than the samples typically used in nationwide polling – followed Mr Carswell’s defection last week.

Mr Farage told the Sun on Sunday the stakes were high in the contest for the Essex seat, which will see Mr Carswell take on his former party.

He said: “This is the moment. If we win the by-election in Clacton, it will create a landslide in British politics.

“If we lose, then selling ourselves as a party that can win a significant number of seats will get a lot harder.”

Mr Farage added: “If Douglas wins this by-election, then there will be more and more people coming over to us. We could end up holding the balance of power by next May.”

That was “utterly dependent” on the Clacton result, he said, but added: “I’m going to keep playing double or quits until I lose. But if I win three more hands, we’ll be out of the EU and a free country again.

“There is a massive appetite out there for change.”

Mr Farage’s party has made inroads in Labour’s northern strongholds in recent elections and he said: “We’re going all out for the working class vote now.

“Five of our most winnable seats are Labour-held and there are even some Labour MPs thinking of joining us.”

Mr Cameron has dismissed Mr Carswell’s decision as “bizarre” because he had promised a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU by the end of 2017.

His plan to renegotiate the UK’s relationship with Brussels was given a major boost by the new president of the European Council.

Donald Tusk, who will give up his job as Polish prime minister to take the role, singled out the UK’s agenda as an area where he wants to make progress.

He said he “could not imagine” the EU without Britain as a member – insisting it would be possible to “reach an agreement” on issues such as freedom of movement of labour.

At a press conference after his appointment was finalised by fellow European leaders in Brussels, Mr Tusk said he wanted to “emphasise that the EU, and me personally, will take on the concerns voiced by the UK”.

The strong words from Mr Tusk – who described the prospect of a British exit as a “dark scenario” – suggests he could be an important ally.

According to another translation the president-elect – who was unanimously backed by EU leaders – also said: “Many of the suggestions put forward for EU reform are sensible, we can work together to eliminate any welfare abuse by EU migrants.”

Speaking to journalists as he left the EU summit in Brussels, Mr Cameron said: “I’m delighted obviously with what Donald Tusk has said about the importance of reform in the EU and addressing the concern that Britain has in the EU.

“I look forward to working with him in the months and the years ahead.”

:: Survation interviewed 700 people online on August 28 and 29.

Published: Sunday 31st August 2014 by The News Editor

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