Farage: I’m ready to lead EU referendum ‘No’ campaign

Leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) Nigel Farage (Reuters/Eddie Keogh)
UKIP leader Nigel Farage has said he would be happy to take up the reins of the ‘No’ campaign in the run-up to Britain’s in/out referendum on EU membership.

His comments follow skepticism among the anti-EU camp that Farage is too controversial a figure to lead the campaign.

In an interview on LBC Radio, Farage said he suspected the role would end up going to a non-political figure, but that he hoped he would remain a politicized voice in the campaign.

He said UKIP would be “extremely active” throughout the campaigning process, claiming his was the only Eurosceptic party with a “big grassroots structure on the ground.”

“The role of UKIP, the role of myself, will be important,” he said. “That’s not saying that I have to take the lead.”

Farage added: “I would be prepared to, of course. But I suspect what we will see is somebody coming from completely outside of normal politics, somebody from the world of business or entertainment that hasn’t got any political baggage at all. I think someone like that may well emerge.”

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Farage attempted to justify his position as a leading figure in the ‘No’ camp, later telling a press conference although “not everybody likes me” he was in the best position to lead the campaign.

He told the Telegraph UKIP is “going to take the lead” on the campaign.

We are going to get cracking. But we will at all times invite others to come along and share the platform with us,” he said.

We will be launching a massive series of public events and meetings all over the country starting in September. These will be public meetings. They will be live web streamed. We are going to be busy, delivering leaflets through the doors by the million. We are not prepared to stand around and wait,” he added.

But his position in the campaign has been a source of tension for both Conservative and UKIP Eurosceptics, many of whom believe Farage would be incapable of winning over voters.

The UKIP press office released a statement last week claiming Farage was not vying for the position of official leader.

“Mr Farage has made clear, time and time again that he sees himself as ‘a’ not ‘the’ leader of the out campaign, and is calling for a broad, inclusive campaign which is cross-party, and no party.”