Daily Express owner Richard Desmond donates £1.3m to Ukip

The businessman says the party is unique in not being run by 'elitists'

Jon Stone
Thursday 16 April 2015 18:32
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Owner of the Daily Express and the Daily Star, Richard Desmond
Owner of the Daily Express and the Daily Star, Richard Desmond

Ukip has received a major boost after Richard Desmond, the owner of the Express Newspapers, handed over £1m to Nigel Farage’s party.

The donation follows signs that Ukip support is being squeezed in the final weeks of the election campaign as it struggles to match the spending power of the Tories and Labour.

Mr Farage said the cash, which follows a £300,000 donation from the media tycoon last year, would help significantly in its fight “against the big battalions”.

Mr Desmond said: “I firmly believe in Ukip. It’s a party for good, ordinary British people. It is not run by elitists. They are struggling to have a voice. They do not have a massive party machine or highly paid public relations people.

“They are human; they are not perfect and they do not pretend to be. But what they believe in is the best for the British people. They are the sort of people who will stand up for people who are struggling.”

His newspapers, which include the Daily Express, Sunday Express and Daily Star, looks set to endorse Ukip at the election.

Lord Stevens, the Ukip peer and former chairman of Express Newspapers, returned to the newspaper group last year as its deputy chairman.

Mr Farage appealed for other wealthy sympathisers to follow the Express proprietor’s lead. He said: “I know there are a lot more people out there who agree in private but I hope this public gesture encourages others.”

Ukip is averaging around 13 to 15 per cent in the polls, sharply down on its high point last summer, but enough to have a crucial impact in closely-fought marginal constituencies.

It is defending two seats captured in by-elections and hopes to add several more on May 7, including the Thanet South constituency where Mr Farage is standing.

But party sources have confirmed it is scaling down its ambitions and focusing on a narrower range of targets.

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