Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Farage in call over TV debates

Ukip leader Nigel Farage
Ukip leader Nigel Farage

It would look "slightly ridiculous" to exclude the UK Independence Party (Ukip) from the 2015 General Election leaders' debates if it wins next year's European elections, Nigel Farage has said.

The Ukip leader also insists his party will be "attacking the Labour vote more and more" over the next few months, as it was revealed 70% of Ukip councillors who responded to a survey had previously voted for the Conservatives.

The new survey also shows 65% believe immigration is the most important issue facing Britain today, 63% believe climate change is happening but human activity is not responsible for it, and a majority believe the death penalty should be given to people guilty of murdering a police officer or a child.

The survey was conducted for BBC One's Sunday Politics programme by ComRes, who interviewed 101 Ukip councillors in England and Wales.

On the issue of television debates, Mr Farage told the Sunday Politics programme: "They're a long way away. I know that everybody is talking about the general election and what may or may not happen.

"But I would like to remind viewers that on May 22 next year we have a national election, a European election. Every single one of us is entitled to vote and we also on that day have over 5,000 council seats up for grabs.

"If Ukip is able on May 22 to win the European elections then I think keeping us out of the pre-election debates in 2015 would look slightly ridiculous."

When earlier challenged that the programme's survey showed that Ukip was dominated by "disgruntled Conservatives", Mr Farage said its main success were in largely Conservative areas in the east and south-east of England.

He continued: "These were shire elections that were taking place on May 2. So it's no surprise to me that 70% of that particular survey had previously been Conservative supporters.

"Had you gone to Barnsley or Rotherham or Middlesbrough or any of those by-elections - South Shields - in which Ukip has been coming second in very safe Labour seats in by-elections, you would have found there the vast majority of our voters had come from the Labour Party. So it does depend a bit on which part of the country you go to."

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