'New UKIP' will take votes from Labour, says Nigel Farage
- 16 March 2014
- From the section UK Politics
UKIP leader Nigel Farage says his party has got rid of "old UKIP" and now has a "huge" opportunity to take votes from Labour in future elections.
"New UKIP is a lot more professional, a lot more smiley, a lot less angry, and it's going places," he told BBC One's Sunday Politics programme.
If the party did not win any seats at the next general election and Labour took office without promising an in/out EU referendum he would resign, he said.
"I will have failed," Mr Farage said.
"I will have spent years trying to achieve this goal."
UKIP advocates withdrawing from the EU and has been involved in growing arguments about the issue ahead of European elections in May.
"I got into politics, not because I wanted a career in politics," said Mr Farage. "Far from it. I did it because I genuinely don't think that this European entanglement is right for our country.
"A lot of people have now woken up to the idea that we've lost control of our borders; it's costing us money. Now is the time, now is the moment for UKIP to achieve what it set out to do. And I think we're going to do it."
If he did resign after the general election the party would not founder, he predicted.
"Everybody says it is a one-man band, but it is far from that," Mr Farage said.
He said reforms he had made to the party, by getting rid of "old UKIP", were making it stronger politically.
In January, Mr Farage decried "Walter Mittys" in his party's ranks after suspending Oxfordshire councillor David Silvester, who had argued that changing the law to allow gay people to marry was the cause of flooding.
Last autumn, MEP Godfrey Bloom was ejected from the party after using the phrase "bongo bongo land" and joking that some female UKIP activists were "sluts".
And aspiring UKIP candidates now have to declare that they have "never engaged in, advocated or condoned racist, violent, criminal or anti democratic activity" and that there are no "'skeletons in my cupboard' that may cause me or UKIP embarrassment".
The party's immediate target is now the European elections.
Mr Farage suggested that Labour leader Ed Miliband had made an error by pledging to hold an in/out referendum on UK membership of the EU only if a further transfer of power from Westminster to Brussels was on the table.
In practice, this would mean that an EU referendum in the next parliament was unlikely, Mr Miliband has said.
"What the Labour Party has done this week with Miliband's speech is to open up a huge flank to us, and that's what we're going to go for," Mr Farage said.
It was wrong to believe that UKIP took votes only from the Conservatives, he said.
"Most of our voters are coming to us from Labour, some from the Lib Dems, and a lot are non-voters.
"Two thirds of our voters would never vote Conservative anyway."
Prime Minister David Cameron has also criticised Labour's EU strategy, calling it "a policy clearly designed by a committee who couldn't agree what to do".
But Mr Miliband has argued it is wrong to set an "arbitrary timetable" for a referendum in 2017 if the Conservatives win the next general election.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has declared that on the issue of EU membership he leads the "party of in".
"Pulling up the drawbridge is the surest way to wreck our economic recovery," he said in a recent speech.
Mr Clegg and Mr Farage will debate the issue in two programmes to be broadcast next month.