A senior UKIP politician says the party has a “real base” to build from in South Shields after the last General Election.
North East MEP Jonathan Arnott says he’s confident the party could gain more votes in the town before the next vote.
The party came second in May’s election, gaining 7,975 votes to Labour Emma Lewell-Buck’s 18,589.
He said: “We did very well in the last General Election, it’s a real base to work from. We need to concentrate on getting more councillors elected.”
He added: “With Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, he’s taking Labour a long way from ordinary people and those people won’t vote for Conservative and Lib Dems, many of them will come across to us.
“Much of how we’ll get more vote is down to hard work. Politicians don’t do simple things like going out and knocking on doors anymore, but how can you represent people if you don’t know what the issues affecting them are?”
We did very well in the last General Election, it’s a real base to work from.Jonathan Arnott, Ukip North East MEP
Mr Arnott was speaking ahead of an event at the Sage Gateshead on Monday where UKIP leader Nigel Farage will be discussing the reasons why the party believes Britain should so ‘no’ to remaining in the European Union in the upcoming referendum.
Mr Arnott will also be speaking.
He said: “We’re expecting to have those views challenged and that’s what we want. So why leave the EU? The first thing is that we’re paying upwards of £55million every single day to be members of this club.
“It has laws that affect 28 different countries at the same time and you can’t have that because every country needs different things.
“One good example is immigration. What we need in terms of immigration is very different to some of the other countries in Europe.”
He added: “In the last general election, we gained four million votes nationally and in the North East, got the highest vote share in the country – it was 17% across the whole of the North East.
“We did a lot better than we’ve ever done before in a General Election. One of the things that saw us get votes in the North East is our ‘no tax on minimum wage’ policy. If minimum wage rises some people would lose their jobs because small businesses couldn’t afford to pay them.
“We’re the party rewarding hard work and that’s a big thing.”
Mr Arnott says that UKIP believes Britain would be able to trade more if it was outside the EU and that leaving would not see the loss of North East-based businesses like Nissan and Hitachi.
He said: “Nissan would stay. This has always been the slightly bizarre claim of Labour, it was them that suggested that Nissan would leave without explaining why or how.
“Nissan held a press conference last month when they said they were expanding and had just made a £100million investment in Sunderland. They were asked that question and said they would stay in Sunderland whatever happened with the EU.
“I don’t think the Labour party have got a leg to stand on with that claim. It’s just scaremongering and trying to make people fear it.
“My understanding with Hitachi is that they’ve made a similar statement.”