Ukip’s manifesto will set out plans to exclude foreign nationals from the right to buy their council houses, according to housing spokesman Andrew Charalambous
Ukip’s housing spokesman, who trousered a fortune renting houses to migrant tenants on benefits, pledged today that the party would exclude foreign nationals from the government’s Right To Buy scheme.
Multi-millionaire buy-to-let tycoon Andrew Charalambous made a chunk of his fortune renting out properties in areas of London with high migrant populations.
The party’s manifesto, due to be published at their Spring Conference at the end of February, will include a pledge to ban foreign nationals from buying council houses.
There would be an exception for those who have served in the armed forces.
Charalambous said: “Britain’s social housing stock is massively oversubscribed. It is neither sensible nor fair on British families on waiting lists for Right to Buy entitlements to apply to foreign nationals occupying council or housing association homes.
An investigation into Charalambous’ property firm Woodlands Estates Limited revealed he had received £745,315 in benefit cash through Haringey Council in 2013 – more than any other private landlord.
He admitted that many of his tenants were migrants – and that almost one in six of them had recently arrived in the UK.
Mr Charalambous’ Greek Cypriot father settled in the UK after fighting for Britain in World War II.
In a statement, he said: “We in UKIP want to create an immigration system that maximises the positive contribution migrants make to our economy and society. Allowing foreign nationals to buy scarce social housing does not accord with that principle and providing a discount when they do is even more of a nonsense.”
Charalambous defected from the Conservative Party in 2011, before making an unsuccessful bid to be the party’s first MP in the Feltham and Heston by election.
He had been a Tory activist since his early Teens, but left the party over differences on immigration, their handling of the NHS and resistance to his calls for St George’s Day to be made a national holiday.
Less than four months before the general election, the UK Independence party’s manifesto is “just a series of bullet points”, according to one official, prompting the party to appoint a new head of policy.
The delay matters because Ukip support has surged and polls suggest the party may enter the next parliament with several MPs, prompting greater than usual interest in its election promises.
Senior Ukip figures say their manifesto may not be ready to publish at the Ukip spring conference on February 27-28 and have expressed concern at the slow pace of work on it.
Ukip confirmed on Tuesday that it was removing Tim Aker, the head of policy, from his role overseeing the drafting of the manifesto.
Neither Mr Aker nor a party spokesman replied to a request for comment. But Suzanne Evans, the former deputy chair who has been brought in to replace him, told the FT: “Tim Aker is an MEP, fighting for a seat in Thurrock and now a local councillor too. He was delighted to hand over the manifesto process.”
One person involved in the preparation of the manifesto said: “It will be largely ready by the spring conference, but perhaps not in full written form. It is going to take a lot of hard work to get to that point though.”
Another said: “A lot of people got irritated with Tim throwing his weight around. All he has for a manifesto at the moment is a series of bullet points, not a proper document at all.”
Ukip’s policy process has been particularly challenging for this election, because party leader Nigel Farage disowned every policy in the 2010 manifesto.
This included ideas such as a flat income tax of 31 per cent, a phasing out of national insurance, compulsory uniforms for taxi drivers and safeguarding British weights and measures.
The Financial Times revealed earlier this month that the party is planning a series of new policies, including ringfencing the National Health Service budget, raising the income tax threshold for lower earners and opposing a new runway at Heathrow.
But many details remain unclear, not least how the party would manage the economy and cut Britain’s gaping deficit.
Part of the delay is attributed to a split between those wanting to keep the party grounded in its libertarian roots and those wanting to push it towards more populist policy positions.
Those tensions erupted in public on Tuesday as senior party figures turned not only on Mr Aker, but on Mr Farage himself, who was quoted by the BBC saying the party should return to the debate over radical transformation of the NHS.
Mr Farage has previously advocated replacing the service with an insurance-based system, even though the party says it is committed to maintaining an NHS free at the point of delivery.
His words echo those of several officials, who have told the FT that maintaining the health service in its current form is only party policy “for now”
Louise Bours, Ukip’s health spokesman, made an unusual public attack on her party leader. She said: “Nigel is entitled to his opinion and others are entitled to theirs, . . . [but] I am certain that if the party discuss it again, we will reject it again. The vast majority of Ukip members, the British public and I will always favour a state-funded NHS.”
Another senior party official expressed irritation that Mr Farage would speak openly about such a possibility so close to the election. The person said: “Nigel has foot-in-mouth disease, he just can’t help himself.”
The row encapsulates what some in the party have billed the split between the “blue-collar kippers” and the “uber-libertarians”, as the party tries to win over disaffected Labour voters.
Internal rows suggest the party is struggling with pressure in run-up to the general election
Ukip is facing pre-election turmoil after policy differences and personality clashes burst into the open, with the party’s health spokeswoman slapping down Nigel Farage’s suggestion the NHS could eventually be privatised.
Amid signs of in-fighting and internal rivalry, a senior source admitted last night that the mood in Ukip’s higher echelons had become “scratchy and irritable” ahead of the 7 May ballots.
There is also dismay in parts of the party over the slow progress in compiling its manifesto, with the MEP responsible for drafting the document revealed to have recently relinquished responsibility for the task.
A fresh spotlight was shone on Ukip’s growing pains yesterday in a BBC interview when the party leader raised the prospect of ultimately replacing the state-funded NHS with an insurance-based healthcare system.
While stressing his party remained committed to healthcare free at the point of delivery, Mr Farage indicated it was “a debate that we are all going to have to return to” because of Britain’s rapidly ageing population.
Ukip’s health spokeswoman Louise Bours swiftly contradicted her leader as she insisted the vast majority of party members “will always favour a state-funded NHS”.
Ms Bours said: “Nigel is entitled to his opinion and others are entitled to theirs, we don’t whip people into all thinking the same thing, like the establishment parties.
“As he has said before, he raised the idea for discussion a while ago, the party discussed it and rejected it. I am certain that if the party discuss it again, we will reject it again.”
The clash followed the disclosure that Suzanne Evans, Ukip’s deputy chairwoman, had taken over the writing of the party’s manifesto from the Euro-MP Tim Aker.
He was reported to have fallen behind with completing the final draft, leading to protests from candidates that they were struggling to answer voters’ questions on the doorstep.
The party dismissed claims he had been sacked as “complete tosh” and said he had asked about 10 days ago to be relieved of the duty, although sources acknowledged Mr Aker had been behind schedule as he attempted to juggle his other jobs as an MEP, councillor and parliamentary candidate.
Work on the manifesto was also affected by the furore surrounding the party’s general secretary, Roger Bird, who was cleared internally of a sexual harassment allegation but stood down from his post by mutual consent.
Meanwhile, the party has been hit by a farcical series of events over its choice of a candidate in the Essex seat of South Basildon and East Thurrock. Kerry Smith – who was selected after the former MP Neil Hamilton pulled out amid controversy over his expenses – was forced to quit over offensive remarks he made in a telephone call.
Evidence is also emerging of rival camps gathering around Mr Farage and Ukip’s first elected MP, Douglas Carswell. The MP for Clacton upset some party traditionalists with a call for it to be “inclusive” and is understood to be at odds with senior figures over health and defence policies.
Aker was in charge of preparing Ukip’s 2015 manifesto before stepping down – but they say it will be “almost entirely” his work anyway
Ukip’s policy chief has quit just six weeks ahead of the party’s manifesto launch in February.
Head of Policy Tim Aker, who was expected to complete the 2015 policy platform before its launch at the Ukip spring conference next month, has been replaced by deputy chairman Suzanne Evans.
A Ukip spokesman said Aker chose to step down on January 12th following his election to Thurrock Borough Council on December 5th.
Aker is also standing as the party’s general election candidate for Thurrock, hoping to unseat Tory MP Jackie Doyle-Price.
Earlier reports suggested Aker had been sacked for failing to deliver the manifesto on time, but this was denied by the party.
A party spokesman said: “The full policy platform is and always was scheduled for the Ukip Spring Conference at the end of February.”
He also the manifesto was “almost entirely” Aker’s work and said replacing him with just weeks to go before its launch was not an indication of problems with the document’s preparation.
Last night, The Times reported a senior insider fuming: “There was growing disquiet that none of us had seen hide nor hair on the policy front. It was especially annoying for candidates, who are banned from making any specific pledges before the manifesto is published. They don’t know what to tell voters on the doorstep.”
Aker’s replacement, Suzanne Evans, took to Facebook this morning to praise Aker’s work, saying his commitments as an MEP, local councillor and election candidate meant he “simply couldn’t continue” with the full time job of developing the manifesto.
She also addressed the Times’ claims that he’d been sacked, describing it as “codswallop”.
“He was keen to hand the brief over,” she said. “And I feel very sorry that he is having to face some appalling lies form mischievous journalists.
“Still, we all knew this campaign was going to be bloody…”
The forthcoming manifesto is the party’s first full policy document since their notorious 2010 election platform, dismissed by Nigel Farage as “drivel.”
As well as her new responsibility for Ukip policy, Suzanne Evans is deputy party chairman and the party’s general election candidate for Shrewsbury & Atcham.
Evans wrote a book last year entitled Why Vote Ukip? – in which she suggests the party would demand all tourists visiting the UK prove they have medical insurance and that meat imports leave us at risk of Ebola if they were in power.
She also suggests the party would seek to abolish the Ministry of Justice.
Nigel Farage faces embarrassment over his plans to radically curb migration from Europe after it emerged one of the actors in a Ukip billboard is an Irish immigrant.
The destitute builder in the party’s latest advert is believed by party officials to be a Dubliner named Dave O’Rourke, a Ukip spokesman confirmed.
Mr O’Rourke is seen sitting on a pavement with a beggar’s cup. The text carries the caption: “EU policy at work. British workers are hit hard by unlimited cheap labour”.
The poster was launched by Mr Farage in Sheffield earlier this week, where he said he would like to see immigration cut to 30-50,000 people a year. Britain will no longer be subject to European “open-door” immigration but instead install a restrict work permit scheme, he said.
Mr O’Rourke is from Dublin and has lived in the UK for ten years, according to an online profile. He describes himself as “hard working”. Under Ukip proposals he would not be able to move to Britain unless he should show he was “highly skilled”.
Many British-born actors struggle to find well-paid work due to high levels of competition within the industry.
It is the second time this week Ukip have faced questions over whether they practice what they preach in calling for an immigration policy that would see far fewer foreigners working in Britain.
Immigration is “good for big business and rich people” because it creates plentiful cheap labour, at the expense of the native working class, Mr Farage claims.
On Tuesday Mr Farage defended his decision to employ his wife, Kirsten, as his £25,000 a year secretary who is paid through European Parliament expenses.
She is German, but Mr Farage denied she was “taking” a British worker’s job, saying he knows of no Briton who could work the late hours that she does.
That claim was undermined after a job advertisement, posted as a stunt by a recruitment firm, for the role of his PA attracted hundreds of applications from UK nationals within hours.
Mr Farage added: “That is a very different situation to the mass of hundreds of thousands of people coming in and flooding the lower ends of the labour market.”
Patrick O’Flynn, Ukip’s director of communications, said any criticism of the poster was “Tory party humbug”.
“The vast majority of people used in political poster campaigns are actors. It is totally standard practice. It is nonsense for the Conservative Party to try and depict this as anything out of the ordinary,” he said.
That position, however, appears to contradict comments by Nigel Farage after it emerged another person featured in a Ukip poster was a party employee.
Lizzy Vaid appears in the party’s manifesto as a voter from Devon, but she is in fact Ukip’s events manager and an assistant to Mr Farage, who lives with his press officer Alexandra Phillips.
Mr Farage defended her inclusion in the brochure because she is a “sincere” supporter of the party rather than an actor.
“What could be more sincere in literature than somebody who joined the party subsequently got a job in the party rather than an actress or a member of the public?” Mr Farage told the Telegraph. “It’s the most ridiculous argument I’ve ever heard in my life. Most broadcasts for most parties use actors. We use Ukippers.”
Separately, the party announced it would not be taking action against David Challice, the party’s Communications Manager, who has suggested that “cash-strapped Moslems” should have multiple wives in order to gain more benefits and described Greeks as “vile”.
The comments were a joke, a party spokesman said. “UKIP is not a party that believes in public debate and conversation being stifled by an obsession with political correctness. So the threshold for which the mere expression of opinion merits disciplinary action should be set high.”
He added: “There are quite legitimate public concerns about the interaction of the benefits system with men who have multiple wives.”
Mr Farage said new policies would be “similar in flavour” to his past manifesto pledges which included bringing in a dress code for taxi drivers, repainting trains traditional colours and introducing a dress code for taxi drivers.
Speaking on BBC2’s Daily Politics, Mr Farage said that he had not been in charge of the party when the 2010 manifesto was pulled together – although he had led the group between 2006 to 2009.
He added that because the party’s manifesto was almost 500 pages long for the last election there were “all sort of bits” of it that he “did not know.” However Mr Farage co-authored the foreword to the manifesto and was Ukip’s chief spokesman.
Quizzed on the BBC 2’s Daily Politics show on a party proposal to scrap Trident Mr Farage appeared confused and asked where the interviewer had got such a suggestion from.
When he was told it was on the Ukip website, he said: “When it comes to websites, I’m not the expert.” Challenged over a compulsory dress code for taxi drivers, he said: “Do we? News to me.”
In response to another policy to require British trains to be repainted in traditional colours Mr Farage said: “Absolutely not, I have never read that, I have no idea what your talking about.”
He added: “Look, under the last leadership and in the 2010 election we managed to present a manifesto that was 486 pages long. So you can quote me all sorts of bits of it that I will not know. That’s why I’ve said none of it stands today and we will launch it all after the European elections.”
The 2010 manifesto has since been deleted from the Ukip website. A Ukip spokesman refused to provide a copy of the manifesto and said the document was no longer “relevant” and had been removed “months ago.”
Mr Farage was also branded “laughable” as he defended his arguments that women are “worth less” and do not face discrimination to City firms.
Louise Cooper, a chartered financial analyst and blogger, told Mr Farage that he was “talking out of his bottom” for saying women were not paid less because of discrimination by firms in the financial sector but instead because of the “lifestyle choice” some made by having a baby.
Mr Farage, who has two daughters Victoria, 13, and Isabelle, 8, said: “Pre-big bang, when I first worked in the city, it was a deeply sexist place – it really was. That’s all gone completely. I don’t believe – in the big banks, brokerage houses, Lloyds of London and everywhere else in the city – I do not believe that there is any discrimination against women at all.
Ms Cooper, herself a working mother, told Mr Farage: “For all the working mothers out there who are battling day to day, and I know lots of them in the City, who are discriminated against, who are paid less than their male colleagues, who are looked over for promotion, I say on behalf of them: shame on you. And I say double shame on you because you actually have daughters.
She added: “What kind of example are you setting to your daughters by saying what you said?”