UKIP leader Paul Nuttall introduced the party’s manifesto this morning. After paying tribute to the victims of Monday’s terror attack and the emergency services, he described the party as ‘the country’s insurance policy’, and added: “If the government starts to backslide they must know that UKIP is there.” He then introduced his deputy Suzanne Evans to outline the party’s policies.
Suzanne Evans also paid tribute to Monday’s victims, adding: “Carrying on as normal is not an option.” She pledged the party would reverse cuts in defence and security budgets and criticised the Prime Minister. “As Home Secretary she made deep cuts to our border force,” she said, “and reportedly, not a single member of her cabinet wants to see immigration reduced.” She added that Jeremy Corbyn was not the answer either.
She pledged that UKIP would press for zero net migration for at least five years. That would mean 30,000 could settle in the UK each year, but those who wanted to come to the UK would be tested and if their social attitudes did not fit in with those in the UK, then they will not get in. The tests would be carried out by 4000 more border guards.
Extremists who are already here would be deported if possible – “no excuses”, she said. “Combatting islamist terrorism here requires a dramatic shift in our attitudes but only ukip has these attitudes,” she said, adding that wearing the niqab and burka in public would be banned. She pointed out that the Prime Minister backed wearing the two garments and hailed the benefits of sharia courts. Ms Evans also announced plans to protect girls at risk of FGM with annual checks.
She went on to say that because of the increase in knife crime, the party will reinstate ‘stop and search’ powers and reduce the paperwork surrounding arrests. The party will recruit 20,000 more police officers and 7000 more prison officers to man the new prisons to be built.
National defence will be a priority, she said, as the army has the fewest number of troops since the Napoleonic wars and the navy has fewer than 20 fighter aircraft – the lowest since World War 1. She pledged to recruit 2000 more armed servicemen and said the party would add £1billion to the annual defence budget.
“Our entire way of life is under threat,” she said. “Keeping us safe is the first duty of government.”
She then spoke about the European Union. “2015 was UKIP’s dream,” she said. “A year later people found the courage to vote for that dream, and UKIP will keep pushing until we are out, and properly out.”
The party believes it’s wrong to spend £14bn on foreign aid, she said, and would reduce the aid budget to 0.2percent of GNI. “That would give a saving of £11bn and that money, in its entirety, will be used to fund NHS and social care,” she said. “We will stop sending so much money abroad and make our adult care services the envy of the world.”
Tuition fees for medical staff in training will be abolished if they work in the NHS for 10 years and by 2022 this would mean 24,000 more nurses and 3500 more midwives. Mental health was also covered in the manifesto with a pledge to create a national school based counselling strategy as can be seen in Wales and Northern Ireland and a national dementia plan in which research, treatment and care can be co-ordinated. The party will also maintain winter fuel allowance, free bus passes, free prescriptions and the triple lock on pensions.
Ms Evans added that the NHS was a national service, not an international service and the party would bring in a tough crackdown on health tourism. In a surprising move she pledged the party would launch a dedicated 500-bed hospital ship.
She maintained the right of EU nationals who work in the UK to stay after Brexit and pledge to form trade deals with developing nations.
Up to 100,000 modular homes costing 100,000 would be created every year and pledged that they would be manufactured where jobs are needed and placed where homes are needed.
She promised to reduce energy bills by removing VAT and green levies, remove VAT on takeaway food and sanitary products and scrap the TV licence. In addition, part of the party’s manifesto was to establish an English parliament along the same lines as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This parliament would sit in what is now the House of Lords which would be abolished. This move would just about halve the number of parliamentarians, who would be elected by a system of proportional representation.
Ms Evans said the manifesto was fully costed and would be paid for by withdrawing from the EU, scrapping HS2, cuts to foreign aid, abandoning Barnett formula by which Scotland receives help from Westminster, and this would result in a saving of £35bn a year. “There will be no tax rises, to pay for this,” she said.
The press conference was closed just in time for participants to take part in the minute’s silence for the victims of the Manchester bombing.
The full manifesto can be read here.