Ukip leader Paul Nuttall speaks in Great Yarmouth

Paul Nuttall speaking to Ukip supporters at Great Yarmouth Racecourse about Brexit. Photo: George Ry

Paul Nuttall speaking to Ukip supporters at Great Yarmouth Racecourse about Brexit. Photo: George Ryan - Credit: Archant

The new Ukip leader spoke to a crowd of supporters in Great Yarmouth.

He was speaking at an event at Great Yarmouth Racecourse alongside his MEP colleagues Patrick Flynn and Stuart Agnew.

Ukip group leader on Great Yarmouth Borough Council Kay Grey and the party's chairman in the borough Peter Fitzgerald also spoke.

Around 100 people filled the room, with more chairs having to be laid out by organisers.

A minute's silence was held at the start of the meeting to pay respects to those who lost their lives in the terrorist attack in London earlier in the day.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Nuttall said: 'Our thoughts are with the people and their families who lost their lives or have been injured in what is an attack on our way of life, our democracy and our parliament. We will not be beaten by this.'

Asked about the party's prospects in the upcoming county council elections Mr Nuttall said he hoped the party could pick up seats.

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He said: 'The one thing we do know is that Ukip councillors have done a fantastic job over the last four years. We are doing our very best in terms of resources, both financial and man power to hold on to our seats. If we campaign hard enough we can only retain, but gain seats.'

Asked how the party could influence the Brexit negotiations, he said: 'The way we make sure our voice is heard is by being a politically strong force who are the guard dogs of Brexit.'

He said he did not think there would be an early general election because it was not in keeping with Theresa May's personality, adding: 'It goes against her nature. She is a cautious person.'

Looking to the future, he said the party would focus more on local elections and the general election.

'In the past Ukip has been a predominantly European party with a lot of MEPs. We are now looking at domestic elections by building a base in council chambers and in the country.

'Not having European elections in 2019 means we are already focussing on the big one the year after.'

He pointed to the party's success in Great Yarmouth, where the party is the second largest on the borough council. 'We are a young party. We have got to look at an area like Great Yarmouth and learn from their experiences.'

During his speech Mr Nuttall called for a proportional voting system for elections to Westminster so the number of votes a party receives matches now many seats they get, calling the current First Past The Post system 'Victorian'.

'We will be campaigning for a change to the voting system. We need a form of proportional representation where every vote counts. It can't be right when we get more votes than the Lib Dems and SNP together and they get over 60 seats and we roll in with one.'

He said he wanted to see a cut to the foreign aid budget, 'So British tax payers money is spent on our own people.'

The borough council's Ukip group leader Kay Grey spoke of some of the challenges she and her colleagues had faced when they were elected en masse to the borough council in 2014.

'We have been branded homophobes, been spat at, verbally abused while canvassing and I have even had a death threat.'

She said the media now asked what the relevance of Ukip was now that the UK is leaving the EU. She pointed to the success in changing the borough council's structure from a leader and cabinet model back to a committee system, which gives opposition parties more sway.

The party's MEP Patrick Flynn said: 'For Paul to have come to Great Yarmouth so soon in his leadership shows what a jewel in the crown it is for the party. We recognise that.'