Now Ukip eyes European prize

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THE UK Independence Party is looking forward to another night of celebration tomorrow after winning 22 seats on councils across Yorkshire.

Ukip yesterday became the main opposition on Rotherham Council on a day which saw Nigel Farage’s party take more than 150 seats on English local authorities.

Ukip party leader Nigel Farage enjoys a pint in the Hoy and Helmet Pub in South Benfleet, Essex

Ukip party leader Nigel Farage enjoys a pint in the Hoy and Helmet Pub in South Benfleet, Essex

The party also successfully defended the four seats it already held on councils in the region which were holding elections this week.

Mr Farage said: “There are areas of the country where now we have got an imprint in local government.

“Under the first-past-the-post system we are serious players.”

He went on: “We will see you at Westminster next year. This party is going to break through into the Westminster parliament next year.”

With the party taking a large number of second places in council contests and voters likely to have backed the same party in both polls, Ukip activists now have high hopes for tomorrow’s European election results.

Ukip won just one of Yorkshire’s six European Parliament seats in 2009 but its supporters believe it will emerge with two tomorrow night and has a chance of three.

Rotherham Council, a Labour stronghold, represented its biggest breakthrough in Yorkshire where it successfully defended the single seat it already held and added a further nine. Ukip also won seats in Bradford, Wakefield, Doncaster, Sheffield, Hull and North-East Lincolnshire.

However, Labour will take comfort from Ukip’s failure to secure a seat in Barnsley or take more than a single seat in Doncaster, where leader Ed Miliband is an MP.

And the Conservatives will have been relieved to have seen Ukip fall short in Harrogate, where it runs the council, and in Kirklees and Calderdale where it has to defend key seats at the General Election.

While Labour suffered in Rotherham it celebrated in Bradford where it secured a majority and in Calderdale where it was just one seat short of taking overall control. It also claimed the seat of the Conservative group leader on Wakefield Council.

The party was on course last night to win around 300 seats across England with Conservatives close to losing 200 and the Liberal Democrats on track to lose 300.

Ex-mayor of London Ken Livingstone was among those suggesting Labour had “woken up a bit late” to the threat from Ukip.

Mr Miliband dismissed criticism of the campaign and his personal performance, insisting there were deeper forces at work in voters’ minds.

“I think in some parts of the country we’ve had discontent building up for decades about the way the country has been run and about the way our economy works and people feeling that the country just doesn’t work for them,” he said.

“And so what you are seeing in some parts of the country is people turning to Ukip as an expression of that discontent and that desire for change.”

For his part, David Cameron rejected calls for the Conservatives to reach a deal with Ukip not to compete in the same seats before the General Election.

“People want us to deliver. The economy is growing, we are creating jobs, but we have got to work harder and we have got to really deliver on issues that are frustrating people and frustrating me, like welfare reform and immigration and making sure people really benefit from this recovery,” he said.

Election results: Pages 9-11; Comment: Page 14.

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