Ukip shrugged off condemnation of its “British jobs for British workers” policy as it set out an economic platform underpinned by £25bn of savings from spending on the European Union, overseas aid, Scotland and the HS2 rail link. Nigel Farage’s party said the money would pay for cuts to taxes, a boost for the NHS and a sharp increase in defence spending.
Anxious to turn the political spotlight back on its policies after weeks of torrid publicity about its general election candidates, the party targeted its pitch at lower and middle income voters equally disillusioned with the Conservatives and Labour.
Its economic spokesman, Patrick O’Flynn, called for a moratorium on unskilled migration and a points system for immigrants to protect “working-class jobs”.
He added: “Ukip proposes doing something else as well to address the wilful destruction of job opportunities for British job-seekers, especially those in working-class communities – granting employers the right to discriminate in their favour without fear of prosecution. You saw all hell broke loose when Nigel Farage talked about that policy.”
Last week the Ukip leader provoked anger when he insisted laws barring discrimination on grounds of nationality or race were not required because race was no longer a significant issue in modern Britain. He stressed he was seeking to defend UK nationals of all colours against cheap competition for jobs from eastern European migrants.
The party yesterday called for an overhaul of the tax system under which the personal allowance is raised to at least £13,000 and a new 35p tax rate introduced between £42,285 and £55,000, at which point the 40p rate kicks in.
It said inheritance tax should be scrapped – a proposal which Mr O’Flynn said is “firmly rooted in traditional working-class values of self-improvement and family support”.
In a move to outflank the Conservatives, who have refused to promise big increases in military spending, Ukip said it would raise the defence budget by at least £3bn a year. It would also increase spending on the NHS by the same amount.
Ukip insisted it would be able to pay for the commitments by slashing £25bn from current spending.
Its flagship policy of leaving the EU would save Britain £10bn a year, it claimed, while Ukip would slash international aid spending from £10bn to just £2bn. It would scrap the planned HS2 rail link between London and the Midlands, saving £15bn over the next five years, and save “several billion” by reducing payments to the Scottish parliament.
The plans were launched in the Greater Manchester constituency of Heywood and Middleton, which Ukip narrowly missed winning in a by-election last year.
Ukip platform: what they propose
- Leave the EU, saving up to £10bn annually.
- Increase the personal tax allowance to at least £13,000, and higher when finances allow.
- Introduce a 35p “lower intermediate tax” so nobody pays 40 per cent until they earn £55,000.
- Scrap inheritance tax.
- Restrict child benefit for future claims to the first two children.
- Raise defence spending by at least £3bn a year.
- Slash foreign aid spending to £2bn.
- Reduce UK taxpayer funding per head in Scotland to England’s level, saving “several billion”.
- Abandon the HS2 “vanity project”.
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