Nigel Farage, the Leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) took to the stage in Doncaster with confidence. After one of the shortest resignations in history after the general election he thanked the party for its continued support and said people had told him that if he'd spent the last twenty years of his life campaigning for an In/Out referendum on the EU then he'd better lead it.
Mr Farage started out by reflecting on how the party had grown over the last four years. The UKIP leader said the party could hold their head high achieving 4 million votes in May but that overall the general election had been tough. He said that UKIP had come up against parties that were bigger, stronger and better financed but ultimately it was difficult to get the message across due to the "big swing of fear of that woman north of the border and that Ed Miliband was not up to being Prime Minister." However, he said that the one message that did get across, and had now become the number one issue for people, was open-door immigration.
UKIP is "alive and kicking"
Jeremy Corbyn is "a gift to UKIP"
The In/Out referendum campaign is the priority
Standing in front of a banner that said 'Say No. Believe in Britain" Mr. Farage, unashamedly said that the referendum was dearer to his heart than party politics. He called out across the political spectrum that this was the moment to put country before party to get our country back. This caused a standing ovation from the conference hall.
Mr. Farage applauded the Electoral Commission (for once) that the question put to people would be straightforward and that he wanted to be part of a positive campaign. People needed to know, he said, that David Cameron's renegotiation tactics meant that in fact he was not asking for anything substantial at all. He also asked people to think from a different perspective of 'would you join the EU today' and he pointed to the chaotic migration policies and financial problems within the Eurozone. Finally he asked people to think of what a future European Union i.e. greater integration would look like for Britain and not just focus on where it stands today.
Believe in Britain
Mr. Farage was at his most passionate when he criticised members of the yes campaign such as Sir Richard Branson, Tony Blair and Nick Clegg, for really saying that they thought Britain was not good enough to succeed outside the European Union. Pointing to the example of Iceland, which has a much smaller population that the UK, Mr Farage said of course, like them, we could negotiate trade agreements, cooperate on areas of international reach and get on with our next door neighbours. He concluded this section by saying "we are good enough to stand on our own two feet" and that the "no' campaign could win.
Even Mr Farage had to concede that one of the benefits of the Conservatives gaining a majority was the opportunity to have an In/Out Referendum on whether to stay a member of the European Union but again he credited the actions of UKIP for this even being on the political agenda.
A key part of his speech was to explain how the 'No' campaign would be organised and where UKIP would fit in. After a cheap jibe at the Prime Minister as being "piggy-in-the-middle" between the 'Yes' and 'No' camps, Mr Farage explained that although comments of Eurosceptics being a fractured group were true of the past they were now united under the umbrella organisation of Leave.EU. UKIP, he stated, would be joining this umbrella.
After a 30 minute speech, short by conference standards, Mr. Farage finished by saying that he "believed the tide had turned in the country and that they were on course to win one of the most historic votes of our lifetime."