Since June 23rd, the entire DNA of UKIP has changed. We are no longer a Party of protest, but a Party of the future. We have to hold the government to account, to ensure that Brexit means Brexit. In everything we do, we have to ask one question: will it help the United Kingdom get a better deal when negotiating with the European Union? Whether we like it or not, we’re all diplomats now.
My campaign for the UKIP leadership is all about reaching out to the 13.6 million people who voted for Brexit but who didn’t feel able to vote for UKIP.
Many of them are traditional Labour voters who feel completely abandoned by a Labour Party riven with internal infighting and which has completely forgotten the working people that it was set up to represent. They don’t want a champagne-swilling Islington elite Labour Party that looks down on the working class with some kind of morbid fascination and curiosity.
Others are traditional Conservative Party voters. In two words I can sum up why UKIP will appeal to them: Theresa May. These are the people who voted for Brexit. Their Prime Minister stepped down so that they could elect a leader who believes in leaving the European Union, yet their MPs denied them the chance to vote and crowned a leader from the Remain camp. What do those 13.6 million people want? I think they want to see a credible plan for what happens after Brexit. They want to know about the jobs that we’ll create. They want us to deal with the thugs like those in my constituency who videoed themselves torturing a defenceless animal to death and didn’t go to jail. They want a Party that is pro-worker, rewards hard work, and also supports our small businesses, because we’re not living in Victorian times any more having to choose between workers and the evil bosses. Being pro-small businesses helps to create jobs, and that’s good for working people too. It’s good for those who are desperate to work but don’t currently have a job. Let’s empower the stay-at-home mums who want to go back to work but can’t because our education system isn’t yet set up for the needs of the 21st century.
We must never, ever, ever, be a Party which is anti-immigrant or anti-immigration but we can be fiercely anti-uncontrolled mass net immigration. We’re moving power from Brussels to Westminster and now I want us to move that power from Westminster back to the people. Nigel Farage gave us this referendum in the first place. He created UKIP’s core vote. He is without a doubt the greatest orator of our time. Any candidate for the UKIP leadership would be mad to try to out-Nigel Nigel. I say that we should do things differently, drawing on the vast talents, skills and expertise that we have within the Party. Nobody could emulate Nigel’s 18-hour a day, 7-day a week approach and it would be foolish to try: the rest of us would be burnt out within a month. That’s why I want a team-based approach, bringing democracy into our internal structures and giving the unsung heroes of UKIP the opportunity to shine. That’s the only way to win over that huge untapped potential, to convince the 13.6 million.