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UK Politics

Party to step aside for anti-EU rivals

Labour and Tory candidates in some marginal seats are to receive the surprise support of a rival, after the UK Independence Party announced it is to back the campaigns of Eurosceptic MPs at risk of losing their seats.

Revealing Ukip's manifesto in Westminster yesterday, Lord Pearson, the party's leader, unveiled posters featuring the faces of Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg that called on voters to "sod the lot". However, he said his party would stand aside in some constituencies where there was a danger their candidate would split the vote and inadvertently unseat a "committed Eurosceptic".

Five Conservatives and one Labour politician are set to benefit from Ukip-funded billboards calling on voters to turn out for the sitting MP. Philip Davies, in Shipley, Douglas Carswell in Clacton, Janice Small in Batley and Spen, Alex Story in Wakefield, and Philip Hollobone in Kettering, will all have Ukip's support. Ukip will also not oppose Bob Spink, the independent MP for Castle Point.

The lucky Labour candidate to win their support is David Drew, the MP for Stroud. While a Ukip candidate is already registered to contest the seat, Lord Pearson said his supporters would now be "asking voters to back the Labour candidate if possible".

Lord Pearson argued that leaving the EU would save Britain £120bn a year, but that negotiating a Switzerland-style free trade deal would mean trade and jobs would be unaffected. The party that finished second in the European elections in June also plans to ban Muslim face coverings such as the burqa. Ukip pledged to grant local and national referendums supported by 5 per cent of the population. It also promised to end "uncontrolled mass immigration" with a five-year immigration freeze.

Ukip's Nigel Farage, who is hoping to unseat John Bercow, the Speaker, in Buckingham, said that the election campaign had so far amounted to a "piddling irrelevancy".