Could Sir Henry Bellingham and Richard Bacon go unchallenged by UKIP at the next election?
- Credit: Archant Norfolk
The UK Independence Party should concentrate its firepower in the north leaving Brexit-supporting MPs unchallenged, one of the party's national executive committee members has suggested.
Toby Coke, the party's leader on Norfolk County Council, said the party's policies should appeal to 'genuine working people' in the north of the country and elsewhere.
Mr Coke, who fought the North-West Norfolk constituency against Brexit-supporting MP Sir Henry Bellingham at the last election, said there were opportunities for the party in the north of England, where he said the Tories were seen as toxic.
'I think many of the traditional Labour voters are not at all what you might call left-wing in terms of the metropolitan elite definition. Our policies will appeal to genuine working people in the north of the country and I hope many other places too.
'Here in East Anglia it is a question of holding their feet to the fire. I am quite sure we will pick up a lot of Labour support as I'm quite sure it will implode whatever happens in the leadership election,' he added.
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'We have got to get parliamentary representation. My personal view, and it is not a UKIP view, I think we should start talking to people about not fighting people who are genuine Brexteers and concentrating on the north where the Tories are totally toxic and many former Labour people will not vote Tory full stop, but they will vote for us if we get the right leader.'
'It would be stupid to say we must charge ahead and waste resources and time fighting seats that might let in those who want to rejoin Europe which I think it would not be ours or anyone's interests.'
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Mr Coke said he would not be making public who he was going to support to be the next leader as it would not be appropriate.
He said that the party needed a good manifesto for the local elections next year which appealed across the board.
'I am a firm believer in small government, local government in Norfolk is out of control and unsustainable in the long run. I think we have to take things a step at a time, get the leadership election out of the way, see what happens about devolution which I am suspicious of and see what people in Norfolk decide there and then go on from there.'