Nuttall defiant but admits his chance is slim

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UKIP have unveiled their campaign battle bus in Lincolnshire, as party leader Paul Nuttall defended the decision to field far fewer candidates than in previous elections.

Mr Nuttall is standing as a candidate in the Boston and Skegness constituency and plans to use the purple bus plastered with the party’s key election pledges as he campaigns in the area.

But, speaking in Boston town centre, he acknowledged his chances of winning the seat were slim.

“Well I’m certainly not the favourite, let’s be clear about that,” he said.

“However, this is the most eurosceptic constituency in the country, I’m the leader of the most eurosceptic party, so if you really want to back the Brexit candidate, you go out and vote UKIP.”

UKIP will only field candidates in 377 seats nationally in this election, around 40% down on 2015, but Mr Nuttall insisted it did not mean the party was spent as a political force.

“This is a unique election, and I said I would talk to our branches, that there wouldn’t be a top-down decision as to where we would and we wouldn’t stand,” said the UKIP leader.

UKIP leader Paul Nuttall enjoying a beer while campaigning, much like his predecessor, Nigel Farage

Image:Paul Nuttall enjoyed a beer while campaigning in Boston

“We want to get as many Brexit MPs into the House of Commons as possible… Many of our branches see this as a second run of the referendum, and what we want to ensure is that we get the kind of Brexit that we voted for on June 23rd,” he added.

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In 2015 UKIP came second in Boston and Skegness, increasing its vote share by nearly 25% and receiving 4,336 votes fewer than the Conservative candidate.

The area is seen as the most pro-Brexit part of the UK – with more than 75% of people voting to leave in the referendum.

UKIP are seeking to exploit the fact Matt Warman, the Conservative who is defending the seat, campaigned to remain in the EU, claiming he is out of touch with the constituency.

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But speaking to Sky News, Mr Warman said he was confident voters would not see it as a reason to vote UKIP.

“What comes up on the doorstep is: do people want Theresa May to be leading our negotiations as we come out of the European Union,” he said.

“I’m obviously very keen to point out that I voted to trigger Article 50, because right through the referendum campaign I was consistently saying, I believe Britain can thrive in or out of the European Union,” Mr Warman added.

The recent local elections saw UKIP lose more than 140 councillors across the country, with just a single gain.

Matt Warman

Image:Tory hopeful Matt Warman says his Remain vote in the referendum won’t put off voters

Opinion polls suggest a significant proportion of the nearly four million people who voted for UKIP in the last General Election are now turning towards the Conservatives.

But Labour’s candidate in Boston and Skegness said he was confident he could increase his share of the vote by wooing some UKIP voters.

“One of the reason we’ve been having issues in this town is because of all the issues over employment rights, and they feel left out – the Tory government has failed the people of Boston”, said Paul Kenny.

The Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and the newly formed Blue Revolution Party are also fielding candidates in the constituency.

The full list is:

:: Mike Gilbert – Blue Revolution Party
:: Paul Kenny – Labour
:: Paul Nuttall – UKIP
:: Victoria Percival – Green Party
:: Philip Smith – Liberal Democrats
:: Matt Warman – Conservatives

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Nuttall defiant but admits his chance is slim

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