Published: 16:00, 26 August 2014
MP Gordon Henderson says he’s not trembling at the knees at the news his is one of 12 constituencies being targeted as winnable by UKIP.
Nigel Farage’s party is reportedly plotting where it can realistically pick up seats at next year’s general election.
On the list, Sittingbourne and Sheppey joins areas including both Thanet seats in Kent, Thurrock in Essex and Portsmouth South in Hampshire.
Reacting to the news on Monday, Mr Henderson said he remained confident he will be returned to parliament for a second time and that he wasn’t surprised by UKIP’s move as the party did very well in this year’s county and European elections here.
He said: “I am happy to see that UKIP has discovered what an important area this is. I’d be more than happy to face Nigel Farage [if he came to campaign here].”
The Tory, who has a 12,383 majority, says he believes it’s possible that UKIP’s candidate, Richard Palmer, could end up in a fight for second with Labour’s Guy Nicholson.
And he added that he was surprised the party would throw resources at targeting a seat where the sitting MP has held the same views as UKIP on the EU and immigration from before it even existed as a party.
Mr Palmer welcome the news, saying this constituency was definitely winnable for UKIP as people were “fed-up” with the Conservatives and hadn’t forgiven Labour for “the mess they got us all into with the economy”.
He wasn’t sure what extra resources would be deployed, but said he and his team were already working hard to win votes.
Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate, Guy Nicholson, said: "UKIP are clearly thinking they've a very strong level of support in many coastal constituencies around the country.
"We're no different, we fall exactly into that category.
"We've got a weak local economy and for those of us in jobs, it's really difficult to get a job with decent pay.
"Those of us trying to find work are finding it increasingly difficult finding decent jobs with a living wage."
Mr Nicholson said UKIP's stance on the abolition of maternity pay, the future of the National Health Service, and the rights of men and women at work were not "the way forward for Britain".
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