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Lord Leicester declares for the UK Independence Party admitting he turned to eastern European workers because the calibre of English "simply wasn't good enough"

PUBLISHED: 14:41 09 April 2015 | UPDATED: 18:24 09 April 2015

Lord Leicester puts his support behind UKIP - From left, Barry Cameron, Toby Coke, Paul Smyth, Michael Baker, Lord Leicester, Steve Emmens, Anna Coke and Stuart Agnew. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Lord Leicester puts his support behind UKIP - From left, Barry Cameron, Toby Coke, Paul Smyth, Michael Baker, Lord Leicester, Steve Emmens, Anna Coke and Stuart Agnew. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2015

A prominent former Norfolk farmer and nobleman who declared for the UK Independence Party today has admitted that he turned to Eastern European workers at his hotel because the calibre of the English looking for jobs was not good enough.

The Earl of Leicester, who ran the Holkham Hall estate in north Norfolk until his son took over seven years ago, invited the party’s Norfolk candidates to his Model Farm home today to spell out why he had joined their ranks.

He said it was his disillusionment with David Cameron and support for the seemingly “sensible and logical” policies of UKIP which had prompted the move.

Challenged on his workforce, Lord Leicester, who has previously voted Conservative and was a West Norfolk councillor, admitted that his hotel employed eastern Europeans.

“Here at Holkham we have a hotel and we used to have a pub which we sold. Yes, certainly we employ Eastern Europeans. I have to say they were very good. The reason is that in this part of Norfolk, unemployment is very low and the calibre of the English coming for jobs simply wasn’t good enough I’m afraid, and that is the stark truth of it.”

Asked if the UK Independence Party immigration curbs would have an impact on the ability of businesses like the Holkham Estate to find staff, he said: “I don’t think so, no. One would hope very much that the rising standards education, if that is what is happening, and apprenticeships and so on, would bring us a better calibre of young person to work here.”

“Going back to our hotel. We now are employing more young English people, and they are doing alright, but we still have a mixture of Europeans and English.”

North-West Norfolk UKIP candidate Toby Coke, who is Lord Leicester’s cousin, said in the last 10 years there had been a huge increase in numbers, and it was completely unsustainable.

He said those who were legally in Britain currently would be able to stay.

“There should not be any shortage of people prepared to work in whatever industry it is, he said.

Speaking more generally about why he had come out in support of UKIP, Lord Leicester – a former West Norfolk councillor - said he was “really irritated” that the Government had given no commitment to spend 2pc of GDP on defence, claiming it was “very dangerous indeed”.

The landowner also voiced his support for the elimination of the bedroom tax.

“IT is quite wrong. It is monstrous in fact. That an elderly couple should be forced out of their house by the imposition of the bedroom tax when there were no smaller premises. It is quite wrong to force a couple of their house against their will.”

He also raised concerns about the smoking ban, which he said penalised smokers who were already under impositions.

The former president of the Historic Houses Association also criticised the Government for putting VAT on repairs to listed buildings There are a number on the Holkham estate.

“By their very nature, listed buildings are more expensive to keep and this government is the first time any government has done this.”

Michael Baker, who is standing in North Norfolk, claimed it was a significant moment for the party and its ability to win support from the farming community to have such an “influential” figure in the industry.

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