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2018 Birmingham UKIP Conference Showcases New Leaders, New Members, New Goals

© Sputnik / Demond CuretonGerard Batten
Gerard Batten - Sputnik International
The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) celebrated its 25th anniversary at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham September 22-23, with over 1300 members, political organizers and supporters attending the event.

Eurosceptic think tanks Bruges Group, the Royal British Legion, pressure group Freedom Association, and others sat alongside the Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFDD), headed by former UKIP president and British MEP Nigel Farage, to discuss their party's vision of a post-Brexit Britain. 

Marietta King, newly appointed UKIP National Electoral Commission member, told Sputnik why UKIP chose Birmingham to host the conference.

"It couldn't be much better, it's right in the middle of the country," she said, adding that turnout had been excellent. "We've had some really good speeches and everyone's feeling upbeat that we're going in the right direction," she said. 

Speaking on party goals, Ms. King noted that UKIP wished to "push for a proper Brexit" so that the UK could have a fairer relationship with the European Union. 

"Brexit, which I like to call Leave because I know what Leave means, but I don't know what Brexit means, [shows] that we need to be in a really strong position to be a fully-fledged, middle of the road party," she continued.  

"I think that the whole Western world has gone mad-they're too extreme on both sides," she said, echoing UKIP Wales leader Neil Hamilton's speech, and hoped that UKIP would "be in a strong position to push the strength of the UK in the future". 

Over 30 UKIP members delivered speeches, including MP Neil Hamilton's famous "World Gone Mad" address. Free speech activist Mark Meechan, otherwise known as 'Count Dankula', lectured on extreme political correctness in British society alongside InfoWars journalist Paul Joseph Watson and YouTuber Carl Benjamin, also known as Sargon of Akkad, who joined via prerecorded video presentations.

As of 2018, UKIP membership has surged to 24,000, up from 18,000, a UKIP spokesperson told Sputnik, adding that the party receives its largest support base in constituencies from the Southern England, Midlands, with rising membership within Scotland.  

London-based Opinium Research predicted UKIP will control 8 percent of Parliament, up 1 percent from past surveys. Conversely, YouGov and BMG Research indicated 5 percent support.  

UKIP Keynote Speech

Gerard Batten, British MEP and UKIP party leader, told attendees that it was his job to lead the party into its next phase and discussed why he volunteered to reform and strengthen UKIP. 

"Seven months ago, our party stood on the edge of destruction and was four to six weeks away from insolvency," Batten stated. "I had a choice of doing something or doing nothing. I simply could not watch our party disappear into oblivion." 

Prior to leading UKIP, Batten noted that membership had been plummeting. "Since [I took over] we have steadied and recruited another 6,000 members," he continued. 

READ MORE: UK Conservative Lawmakers Prefer Party Unity Over May's Dismissal — UKIP Head 

Under his leadership, Batten wants "UKIP to be a populist party in the real meaning of the word," while promising that his party would represent ordinary people, including taxpayers, the unemployed, and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).  

"These people are the backbone of our country," he said, adding that big business under Tory rule and 'Marxist ideologues' in the Labour party and trade unions did not represent them. 

"UKIP policies are not about being right or left, but by standing up for what is right and opposing what is wrong," Batten said. He also highlighted that UKIP had spent 23 years campaigning to become the 'electoral threat' which forced David Cameron to trigger the EU referendum in 2016.  

"Mrs. May and the Westminster establishment have no intention of fully implementing a complete exit from the European Union, and would like to reverse that if possible, settling for BRINO, or 'Brexit in Name Only'," he said. 

Interim Manifesto Takeaways 

The 30-point UKIP manifesto comprehensively outlines the most important party policies, many which are unorthodox in nature. 

Post-Brexit, UKIP would reject paying EU funds and abiding laws from European courts. It would also continue to fight for total independence regardless of a hard or soft Brexit. 

Militarily, UKIP will abandon the EU's Permanent Structure Cooperation, or 'European army', which Westminster refused to sign November 13 last year. UKIP pledges to avoid foreign interventions, which it blames on European foreign policy, but will commit 2 percent GDP spending to NATO, boost funding for the Royal Armed Forces and maintain Trident, the UK's nuclear deterrent. 

It will also create a Veterans' Administration Department charged with resettling military personnel via a 'Boots to business' jobs' scheme, including a new Migration Control Department designed to control immigration, the manifesto states. 

UKIP will also scrap BBC licensing fees and replace it with a subscription service, the BBC noted. 

The British trade deficit with the EU common market grew from £5 billion in 1992 to £96 billion in 2016, with only 12 percent of British manufacturers supplying the UK market, the manifesto claims. 

In response, UKIP proposed a 20-year program to expand manufacturing to roughly £90 billion assisted by a Commonwealth Free Trade Agreement for exports, and would adhere to World Trade Organization (WTO) policies instead of EU ones. 

Britain would regain control of fisheries along its 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), where it currently lands only 43 percent of fish and shellfish caught in its own EEZ, with EU fishing boats taking 700,000 tons of fish and shellfish worth £530 million each year, a 2017 NAFC report mentions. 

UKIP would end 'health tourism' by foreign nationals, prioritizing British taxpayers and requiring foreigners to purchase private health insurance unless their nations provide reciprocal agreements. "The NHS is a national health service and not an international health service," the manifesto states. 

It will also waive tuition fees for medical students in exchange for a minimum five-year residency period, and will scrap hospital car parking charges. UKIP also pledged £2 billion to nursing and home care each year and an additional £500 million to mental health services. 

The manifesto also hits hard at immigrants, especially Muslims, and asserts that political correctness has cause the upsurge in sexual abuse and pedophile gangs throughout the UK. 

READ MORE: No Apologies: New Manifesto Policy Will Reclaim Borders, Curb Immigration — UKIP 

It also demands ending funding to overseas mosques and imams while blaming Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan for exporting extremist ideologies to Britain. Furthermore, UKIP would separate prisoners believed to harbor extremist views from other inmates in order to curb Islamic gang recruitment. 

The manifesto not only blames uncontrolled immigration for crime rises, but for housing shortages, mentioning that EU migrants enjoy access to social housing "on the same basis as British citizens".  

It also attacks overseas investors who purchase roughly 60 percent of residential new-build properties in central London and 30 percent overall, according to an LSE study.  

UKIP proposed building one million new homes on brownfield sites financed with grants, and will demand a five-year residency period for non-UK citizens in order to buy British properties, in addition to sweeping reforms on immigration. 

Lastly, the party would repeal hate speech guidelines in favor of pre-existing laws, in addition to Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) used to curtail protests and criminalize speech.  

UKIP also plans to save £67 million per annum by repealing the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and Government Equalities Office, accusing them of a "politically correct social engineering of society".

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