Some long-term European immigrants to Britain could be told to leave the country if UKIP gets into government and takes Britain out of the EU, the party’s candidate in the Rochester by-election has suggested.
Mark Reckless, the former Conservative MP, whose defection triggered the by-election, said that EU migrants who had lived in the UK for a long time would be considered “sympathetically” but others would only be allowed to stay for a transitional period.
His remarks, during an ITV debate in the constiutancy, were challenged by the Labour candidate, Naushabah Khan.
“Where would you stop, Mark? My family are migrants, are we going to say they need to go back as well?” she asked Mr Reckless.
Mr Reckless failed to answer her question but added: “What we would want to do is to look at new people coming in and apply a consistent Australian-style points system, and the same to people coming from Europe as we do to those coming from say the Commonwealth, from Australia, Africa, India, the Caribbean, we shouldn't have a discriminatory system which favours Europeans against people from outside."
Mr Reckless made his initial comments when he was challenged to spell out what would happen to a Polish plumber if Ukip had its way and Britain left the EU.
“I think in the near term we’d have to have a transitional period, and I think we should probably allow people who are currently here to have a work permit at least for a fixed period,” he said.
Asked again whether this would mean a Polish plumber and his family could be deported, Reckless said: “People who have been here a long time and integrated in that way I think we’d want to look sympathetically at.”
He stressed that Ukip’s focus was on how to control numbers of new migrants and creating a system that did not discriminate in favour of EU migrants against non-EU migrants,
It emerged on yesterday that the Conservative candidate Kelly Tolhurst had released a leaflet claiming to have berated David Cameron over the “uncontrolled immigration” in the area.
The officially-approved glossy publication called “Kelly talks” – makes no mention of the Conservative anywhere and appears to be an attempt by the party to portray their candidate as someone with Ukip-style views on immigration that take a tougher line than her party and Cameron himself.
“I wanted to bring the prime minister to this constituency to show him that uncontrolled immigration has hurt this area. I told him we need action, not just talk,” she says
Another Conservative leaflet appears to link immigration and fear of crime.
It says: “Most people I know here have worked hard their lives, played by the rules and paid their fair share, but we sometimes struggle to access the services we need because of uncontrolled immigration. Others don’t feel safe walking down the high street of our town.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies