Published: 11:30, 15 August 2014 |
Updated: 11:35, 15 August 2014
UKIP party leader Nigel Farage has today confirmed he wants to stand in the race to become the next MP for Thanet South.
Ending months of speculation, Mr Farage said he has thrown his hat into the ring - but insists he is not an "automatic shoo-in".
A hustings meeting is to take place in the constituency on Tuesday, August 27 ahead of the general election next year.
"The situation is that there will be a hustings in the constituency the week after next at which the branch will decide who they wish to represent them," he wrote in an article in The Independent newspaper today.
"I have fought the seat before and it is in my home county of Kent and an area I have represented in the European Parliament since 1999..." - Nigel Farage
"I have thrown my hat in the ring, but so have others, including a top-class barrister and friend of mine.
"It may seem silly to some that the leader of a party would have to go through the process of being approved and selected but, I assure you, rank means nothing in UKIP."
He added: "Just as I applied to stand again as a UKIP MEP and went through the same assessment as other candidates and faced the vote of the membership with everyone else, I believe that the power to select the person they will be pounding the streets in all weathers for lies with the members of the branch themselves.
"Of course I think I stand a good chance of winning. I have fought the seat before and it is in my home county of Kent and an area I have represented in the European Parliament since 1999. But with Ukip members, nothing is ever for certain. And that's just fine by me."
Cllr Roger Latchford, the leader of the 17-strong UKIP leader on Kent County Council, said: "It would be a fillip for us if he does get the nomination, there's no doubt about that.
"Should he get the nomination, he will be a very good candidate. From the KCC results, we know voters are disillusioned with the three main parties."
Craig Mackinlay, who will be the Conservative candidate in Thanet South and is a former UKIP member, said: "It is not unexpected, but it is a strange choice given my background.
"I am not bothered. I will be fighting to make sure Labour does not get back in. We are the only party that can deliver a referendum on the EU - UKIP can't."
Mr Farage fought the seat in 2005 when the party was less popular. Surveys have suggested that UKIP would stand a good chance of making a parliamentary breakthrough in the seat, where current MP Laura Sandys is standing down.
In 2005, Mr Farage came in fourth with 2,079 votes, a 5% share - behind the Lib Dems, who were third. The seat was won by Steve Ladyman for Labour.
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