THE self-proclaimed ‘People’s Army’ of Arun – UKIP – has set its sights on Westminster after a landslide victory in Thursday’s European elections (May 22).
UKIP members in the Arun district were as jubilant as their party’s leader, Nigel Farage, on Sunday (May 25) as the local results of the EU election were announced.
They smashed much of the opposition, beating many of Arun’s major parties by huge margins.
UKIP secured some 40 per cent of the votes cast in the poll, gaining a total of 17,913 votes, streaks ahead of their nearest rivals, the Tories, who secured 12,824 votes.
Third place Labour lagged behind with 3,872 votes, leaving The Green Party in fourth – with 2,872 votes – and the Liberal Democrats with just 2,204 votes.
Now, following on from UKIP’s victory, the party chairman for its Bognor and Littlehampton wing, Joan Phillips, has pledged the group will fight head-to-head against the area’s current Conservative MP, Nick Gibb, to secure the Euro-sceptic party’s first seat in Parliament.
Councillor Phillips, who is already a UKIP county council representative for Middleton – which includes Climping – said: “This result sends a clear message – people are not happy with the power the EU has over us. UKIP is going to be the voice of the people. We are going to fight to for the people of the UK.”
She added: “I think we now have people in the right place to take on Parliament.”
Cllr Phillips announced that UKIP’s prospective parliamentary candidate for the Bognor Regis and Littlehampton seat in next year’s General Election was going to be Graham Jones.
He is the current county council representative for Felpham.
UKIP’s EU election results in the Arun district this year were a reversal of 2009’s in which the Conservatives beat the party into second.
Critics have said the surge in UKIP voters is a protest to the main political party’s current policies in Europe.
However, Cllr Phillips said: “That’s ridiculous. The main parties ignored us for years and now they’re scared.”
The turnout in the Arun was 37.8 per cent, slightly down on four years ago.