The Independent reports that the millionaire Lord Pearson was elected leader of the UK Independence Party last week after putting “the growing threat of Islamism” and curbing immigration at the heart of his campaign.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch, who defected from the Conservatives two years ago, comfortably beat four rivals to assume command of the anti-European Union right-wing party.
Pearson, one of two UKIP peers sitting in the House of Lords, has protested that the “political class” is complacent about Islamism and claimed that some of “our people” were “strangers in our own land”. The 67-year-old former insurance broker invited the right-wing Dutch politician Geert Wilders in February to screen a controversial film about radical Islam.
He has called for a ‘zero net increase in immigration’, arguing that the issue was the main concern for many voters, but has not explained how this would be achived when most of our immigration comes from within the European Union.
Lord Pearson has backed the idea of electoral pacts with Eurosceptic Conservatives at the next election and is calling for a Swiss-style system of local referendums which he says would hand “power to the people”.
Lord Pearson inherits a party in high spirits after receiving 16.5 per cent of the vote – a higher share than Labour – in the European elections in June. It had 13 MEPs elected to Brussels, with representatives from all eight English regions, as well as Wales.
It intends to field 550 candidates at the general election expected in May, but will face a formidable a task in seeing any elected under the first-past-the-post system. Its main hopes rest on Mr Farage’s candidacy in Buckingham.
In his acceptance speech, Lord Pearson said his ambition was for the party to do well enough to force a hung parliament. He said: “Of course, we will be majoring on leaving the European Union. We can’t control our borders without that, we can’t control immigration and we will save billions.”
An Old Etonian, he founded the insurance brokerage Pearson Webb Springbett, now PWS, in 1964. He was raised to the peerage in 1990, developing hardline anti-EU attitudes when he sat on the Lords EU Select Committee between 1992 and 1996. That experience, he has explained, “led me to become a leading exponent of the case for the UK to leave the European Union”. Source: The Independent
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