Nigel Farage has confirmed that he will run for a seat in the House of Commons at the 2015 election, and hinted that he is eying the seat that until recently was held by the former Conservative leader, Michael Howard.
There had been speculation that he would contest Thanet South, which was a marginal Labour seat for 13 years until 2010, when it was won by Laura Sandys, one of the most pro-EU Conservative MPs in the current Parliament.
But he indicated that although he has not made up his mind, he has been eyeing Folkestone and Hythe, a seat held by another pro-EU Tory, Damian Collins, where Ukip has built up a strong base. Ukip won all three Folkestone seats in the Kent County Council elections last May, while in Hythe they took third place behind the Green Party and the Conservatives.
Questioned on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show, Mr Farage said that for now his mind is on next year’s European elections. But when pressed about his parliamentary ambitions, he added: “To be honest, I was thinking about Folkestone but it doesn’t really matter. I’m not going to say where I’m standing, I’m not even going to think about where I’m standing. I’m going to stand, but let’s get the European elections out of the way first.”
Mr Collins, who won the seat in 2010 with a 10,122 majority, hit back on Twitter, saying: “Nigel Farage says ‘it doesn’t really matter’ whether he commits to stand to be an MP in Folkestone or Thanet. He’s got no commitment.”
Farage - currently an MEP for the South East - stood against Commons Speaker John Bercow for the seat of Buckingham in 2010. He said he was "lucky to be alive" after a plane crash caused by a party banner getting caught in his plane's tail during an election day stunt.
He finished third with 8,410 votes, to Mr Bercow's 22,860.