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UKIP leader to address party members at Winter Gardens, Margate

By Paul Francis

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has told tonight how sustained attacks during the Euro election campaign have shown how "rattled" the major parties are.

Speaking ahead of a rally involving 1,200 party members at Margate's Winter Gardens, the MEP said he'd been surprised at the level of hostility.

And he hit out at claims he was racist, saying if he was, it would have come out during the 15-years he's spent in politics.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage speaking to members at Margate's Winter Gardens
UKIP leader Nigel Farage speaking to members at Margate's Winter Gardens

The 50-year-old said the accusations were a by-product of being the favourites to win Thursday's poll.

"Being out in front, is a hard place to be," he said. He also revealed the party is taking out a full-page national newspaper advert tomorrow setting out its plans for Britain.

But he wouldn't be drawn on suggestions he had chosen Margate for the rally as he intends to stand in Thanet South at next year's general election.

He said he had campaigned far and wide during the past three weeks and he is looking at five possible parliamentary seats across southern England.

Asked whether the election campaign had been the most bruising he'd known, he said the 2010 one was worse, mainly because he'd been involved in a plane crash.

Protesters outside Margate's Winter Gardens ahead of UKIP rally
Protesters outside Margate's Winter Gardens ahead of UKIP rally

Returning to a familiar theme, he said it was ludicrous Britain had to let known criminals in through Dover because of EU rules.

And he called for closed Manston airport to be classified as an "enterprise zone" where budget airlines are given five-year tax breaks to operate from.

He said: "It's terrible news about Manston. It's not part of the government's agenda. It's madness and tragic to lose it."

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To clear the site to make way for housing would be a "huge waste".

Before Mr Farage spoke, a small band of about 100 protesters gathered outside the venue, chanting anti-UKIP slogans.

There was a small police presence and Mr Farage entered the venue earlier with no reported problems.

Anti-UKIP protesters outside the Winter Gardens, Margate
Anti-UKIP protesters outside the Winter Gardens, Margate

Mr Farage was attacked by protestors on a visit to Thanet in January and was recently egged while out campaigning in Nottingham.

His choice of Thanet for the party’s final campaign event before voters go to the polls had been regarded as significant.

The party has high hopes of grabbing seats from the Conservatives, which currently has two of the 10 MEPs in the south east region. Polls indicate it is expected to fair poorly.

But there remains speculation Mr Farage is eyeing up Thanet South for the general election in 2015, although he is also said to be weighing up standing in Folkestone and Hythe.

In addition to Mr Farage, other speakers will be Diane Jones, also a candidate for the south east, and Ray Finch.

Tonight's rally is last major event for the party ahead of Thursday’s vote.

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