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Nigel Farage to visit Thanet after former opponent Craig Mackinlay charged

By Paul Francis

The former Ukip leader Nigel Farage will enter the election battle in Kent tomorrow with a visit to the constituency where he lost in 2015.

Mr Farage’s visit to Thanet comes the day after his opponent at the election, Conservative Craig Mackinlay, was told that he has been charged with offences under the Representation of the People Act 1983.

The allegations concern claims that the Conservative party breached the rules on expenses during the campaign in South Thanet. The party has rejected claims of wrong-doing.

Ex-Ukip leader Nigel Farage visiting Ramsgate on his battle bus
Ex-Ukip leader Nigel Farage visiting Ramsgate on his battle bus

The visit by the former Ukip leader to Thanet is understood to have been arranged before yesterday’s news.

Nevertheless, the presence of Mr Farage will give a lift to Ukip, which has been rocked by a series of election losses in Kent - notably at the county council election in May, when it lost all 17 seats it held on KCC.

And this week, it saw one of its councillors on Thanet council defect to the Conservatives over what he claimed were Ukip’s broken promises, citing Manston as an example.

Nigel Farage during a speech in St Marks Church, Ramsgate
Nigel Farage during a speech in St Marks Church, Ramsgate

Cllr Peter Evans, who represents Salmestone ward in Margate: “After much thought and with the best interests of my constituents in mind I have decided to join the Conservative Party in favour of UKIP.”

Whether the visit will come in enough time to reverse his party’s fortunes remains to be seen.

Even given his legendary capacity to galvanise supporters, it may be too late.

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