New leader Paul Nuttall makes Norwich and Ipswich ripe targets for Ukip, according to party’s only MP
- Credit: PA
The UK Independence Party's new leader Paul Nuttall is the man to target former Labour strongholds in Norwich and Ipswich, its only MP has said. Clacton MP Douglas Carswell echoed the North-West MEP's hope the party could be a new home for former traditional Labour voters after Mr Nuttall comprehensively beat former deputy chairwoman Suzanne Evans and ex-soldier John Rees-Evans in the contest to replace Nigel Farage.
The election was the second in the space of a few months, following previous victor Diane James's decision to step down after just 18 days in the job. The new leader has been MEP for North West England since 2009 and has served as Ukip's chairman and deputy leader.
Born on Merseyside, he is regarded as well-placed to poach northern working-class voters from Labour.
Mr Carswell said Labour MPs in the north of England should be 'very worried indeed', but added: 'There are some former Labour strongholds in East Anglia. There is Ipswich and Norwich. I see these as areas that are very much ripe for Ukip to target. I think Ukip needs to become competitive in Ipswich and Norwich in particular.
'People who voted for the Labour Party in the 2010 election and voted UKIP in the last general election have shown how to do it. It requites a slightly different approach, and Paul is certainly the person to do it.'
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But he called for a focus on areas where there was a sitting MP 'trying to frustrate the views of the people in the referendum'. 'That is where I think there are opportunities for us. There may be MPs who voted remain but have accepted the view of their constituents, but if there is any sense they are trying to frustrate the Brexit process - then both barrels.'
He said the prospect of electoral pacts was 'a decision for the new leader', but added: 'I personally would not be able to campaign against Michael Gove or Gisella Stuart - read into that what you will.'
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The UK Independence Party was seen as a home for disgruntled eurosceptic Conservatives, but Mr Carswell said there was only a 'finite' number of votes in the ultra Thatcherite market, and acknowledged the Conservatives had become 'more robust'.
'The big opportunity lies for us in displacing the Labour Party and that requires us to be a party that holds slightly different priorities. We have done really well in focusing on migration and Europe and patriotism, but you don't need to be a shire Tory to care about patriotism. There are a huge number of people in solid Labour seats who are patriotic and who deeply resent the fact that they and their and aspirations are taken for granted and treated with contempt by the leftist elite in this country.
Mr Carswell also insisted that he was '100pc UKIP' after he did not rule out returning to the Conservatives in an interview with The House magazine last week.
'For me to change parties I would have a by-election and I don't intend on doing that,' he added, claiming his comments had been 'overanalysed'.
'I am very happy doing what I am doing and I am looking forward to working with my new leader,' he said.