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Ukip policy chief 'sacking' denied

Ukip has insisted it remains on track to publish its manifesto after it emerged the rising star picked to draw up detailed proposals for May's general election has been replaced as the party's policy chief.

A spokesman conceded that there was "frustration" among some candidates that they did not yet have a full platform on which to campaign on the doorstep as the party seeks to capitalise on significant public support.

But he denied Tim Aker had been "sacked" and said the would-be MP had chosen to step aside from the role to concentrate on his roles as an MEP and local councillor and his own election campaign in one of the party's target Commons seats.

The Times reported that he was removed amid concerns that progress on the manifesto was so delayed that there was a risk it would not be completed in time to be launched at the party's spring conference.

Deputy chairwoman Suzanne Evans, who has taken over the role, told the newspaper she relished the task of "putting together the final details and presenting a sensible, radical and fully-costed manifesto" at the gathering in Margate in March.

It is scheduled to have been assessed by an independent think-tank before publication.

The spokesman said Mr Aker made clear just before Christmas - when he took a council seat in a by-election in Thurrock, the Essex town which he hopes to represent in Parliament - that he felt unable to continue with the policy role.

Mr Aker said: "Delighted to have handed over strong policy brief to the excellent Suzanne Evans.

"Now on to winning Thurrock in May."

Some policy - such as blocking t ourists and migrants from outside the European Union from entering Britain without health insurance - was unveiled at Ukip's annual conference in October.

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