Paul Nuttall was bullish in his confidence of a Ukip victory in Stoke
Speaking exclusively to the Daily Express on the campaign trail, Mr Nuttall said he was optimistic about pulling off a shock by-election victory in Stoke Central and cause a new political earthquake.
He warned that with the Supreme Court ruling forcing the Government to pass a bill in Parliament to trigger Article 50 and start Brexit, voters in Stoke need to “send a powerful message” that the Leave majority “will not be ignored or taken for granted”.
With the byelection set for 23 February, Mr Nuttall launched his campaign as it emerged that Labour had drawn up a shortlist of three Remain supporters for the seat which became vacant when Labour Remoaner MP Tristram Hunt quit to become director of the V&A Museum.
Mr Nuttall said: “It shows that Labour have complete contempt for the people of Stoke and all those working class people who voted for Brexit.”
His attack came as Remoaner Labour MPs in Parliament had said they would fight “hand to hand combat” with the Government over Brexit in alliance with Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish Nationalists and the small rump of Lib Dems.
The Ukip leader slammed Labour for showing contempt for those who voted for Brexit
He said: “Stoke Central is the new frontline in battle for Brexit, this is their chance to send a loud message to Parliament.
Labour have complete contempt for the people of Stoke
“On 23 June last year people voted for Britain to take back control of its borders, take back control of its money, take back control of its laws and be free to sign our own free trade deals around the world.”
He added: “Without Ukip MPs in Parliament there is a danger this will be watered down.”
Stoke, which since the 1950s has been a Labour stronghold, has been described as “the capital of Brexit” after almost 70 per cent of voters backed Leave in the campaign.
Mr Nuttall told the Daily Express: “I will make Stoke the capital of change. Most of all I will represent what these people want with Brexit which is change.”
The Lib Dems tried to claim that the Richmond Park by-election win in a well heeled part of London provided a mandate for their demands for a second referendum.
Mr Nuttall said: “This will be a reverse Richmond, it will show that voters want Brexit delivered. And unlike Richmond this one will represent the majority of the country if we can pull off a victory.”
The by-election was triggered when Tristram Hunt ditched politics to become director of the V&A
Standing among the Victorian terraces in the constituency, he said: “I come from a similar community as this one. I am not a privately educated southerner like the last two Labour MPs here.
“I understand the needs of this place and how people feel they have been let down by the establishment.”
Mr Nuttall believes his message of making Ukip “the patriotic party of working class” is already having an impact in the Potteries.
A survey by Labour Leave suggested that Ukip has a 10 per cent lead in the constituency already but Mr Nuttall said he is “not taking anybody for granted.”
Government Loses Brexit Vote Appeal
Tue, January 24, 2017
Britain's most senior judges ruled that Prime Minister Theresa May does not have the power to trigger the formal process Article 50 for the UK's exit from the European Union without Parliament having a say.
1 of 12
Issued by the Supreme Court of (top row, from the left) Lord Neuberger, Lord Mance, Lord Kerr, Lord Sumption, (bottom row, from the left) Lady Hale, Lord Clarke, Lord Wilson and Lord Hodge, who agreed with the majority decision that the Government could not trigger Article 50 without Parliamentary approval.
But he said that “there is a new sense of optimism in Ukip, we really feel we are going places now.
“A victory in Stoke would just be the beginning.
“If people see we can win here then there could be a domino effect across the North and Midlands in Labour seats.
“It looks like more Labour MPs are going to run off to jobs in the private sector because they have given up on the party’s future under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
Mr Nuttall said the Tories could not be trusted to deliver a Brexit the people asked for
“That will give us more opportunities and I think we can build up a Ukip group in parliament.”
Mr Nuttall said he had decided to run earlier than originally planned because “I need to lead from the front”.
And while he was with the Express in Stoke voters welcomed him around the constituency.
Valerie Woolley, 70, of Alastair Road, said she would vote Ukip because she is “fed up with the false promises” of the other parties.
She said: “It’s time we had somebody in who can do something good.”
In the same street, Geoff Taylor, 69, said he was switching from the Tories to Ukip.
He described the Labour Party as “absolutely despicable” and was angry over Labour and Lib Dem MPs pushing for a second referendum.
He said: “We have had a referendum, now we need to get on with Brexit.”
He added: “Nobody listens to the Labour Party anymore, they are an absolute shambles.”