UK Politics

Farage: Parliament recall timing 'to deflect attention' from UKIP

Nigel Farage
Image caption Mr Farage said that prime minister David Cameron "will do anything he can to try to deflect attention away from UKIP"

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has said a recall of Parliament to discuss airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq has been scheduled to upstage UKIP's party conference.

Mr Farage said Prime Minister David Cameron "will do anything he can to try to deflect attention away from UKIP".

Philip Collins, chair of centre-left think tank Demos, said UKIP's stance was "absolutely bizarre".

The recall on Friday coincides with the start of UKIP's conference.

Mr Farage told the BBC: "I'm not against the recall of parliament, but we are told that they had to delay it to miss the Labour Party conference. They decided to do it in the middle of the UKIP conference.

"I think Mr Cameron will do anything he can to try to deflect attention away from UKIP. He rather hopes and thinks we're going to go away. Well, we're not."

'Self-absorption'

UKIP deputy chairman Suzanne Evans told the BBC's Daily Politics that UKIP had been calling for Mr Cameron to recall Parliament "for weeks", and that the timing was "a cynical ploy".

"He's made his mind up [about airstrikes]. There's no need for him to go back to Parliament," she added.

Media captionSuzanne Evans on the timing of the recall on Parliament and how UKIP's flat tax rate was 'misunderstood'

Mr Collins, a speechwriter for Tony Blair when he was prime minister, said that UKIP's stance was "absolutely bizarre", and that Mr Cameron addressing the United Nations on the issue on Wednesday had had more to do with the timing of the recall.

"I think the self-absorption to think that the prime minister is thinking of the UKIP conference when he's recalling Parliament to think about airstrikes is absolutely bizarre," Mr Collins said.

UKIP is expecting around 2,000 people at its conference in Doncaster, which begins on Friday, Mr Farage said.

The conference location, near Labour leader Ed Miliband's constituency, was a "strong message" that UKIP was not just for supporters of the Conservative Party, he added.

Airstrikes

He said the party was for a "broad spectrum" of people with differing views.

Mr Farage told the BBC he would not not support UK airstrikes against Islamic State militants.

"All that will happen, within a few weeks, we will see stories about civilian casualties, which are bound to happen. It will frankly get us nowhere," he said.

"You'll never win a war without boots on the ground and frankly I'm not prepared to put British boots on the ground," he added.

However, Mr Farage said he would sanction the use of UK special forces and expertise in assisting "different Arab nations... if they're prepared to put the boots on the ground."

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