NIGEL Farage yesterday set out plans for an early referendum on withdrawal from the European Union, a radical reduction in immigration, increased spending on defence and an £18 billion tax giveaway as he launched the Ukip manifesto under the slogan “Believe In Britain”.
Declaring “we want our country back”, Mr Farage said that Ukip was the only party to argue that the UK should be a free, self-governing nation, able to make its own laws and negotiate its own trade deals, and trading with the EU as “good neighbours”.
After dismissing the Ukip manifesto for the 2010 election as “drivel”, Mr Farage said that the spending and saving commitments in this year’s document was fully costed and independently verified by the Centre for Economics and Business Research think-tank.
Launched in the Ukip target seat of Thurrock in Essex, the manifesto has at its heart a referendum on Britain’s EU membership, which Mr Farage believes will pave the way for withdrawal, allowing the UK to impose tighter immigration controls and thus relieve pressure on public services.
Other flagship policies included:
• An £18bn “low tax revolution” which would see the threshold for paying income tax raised to £13,000, the higher-rate 40p threshold lifted to £55,000 and a new 30p rate on earnings between £45,000 and £55,000.
• Savings totalling £32bn by the end of the Parliament in 2020, including a “radical” cut in overseas aid; ending contributions to the EU; the scrapping of “vanity projects” like the HS2 rail link; and reform of the system for distributing of state cash to cut funding for Scotland and give a “fairer deal” for England and Wales.
• A commitment to meet and then “substantially” exceed Nato’s target of 2 per cent of national GDP to be spent on defence, and to end tax payments for armed forces on active service.
• Increased spending of up to £3bn a year on the NHS.
The manifesto will widely be seen as setting out a negotiating position for coalition discussions with larger parties.