This is your first time running for the European parliament. What made you decide to run?
I’d stood in a couple by-elections in Rotherham and Barnsley, and done extremely well in them. I came second. They were parliamentary elections, and it seemed like a natural progression to run as an MEP. That doesn’t mean that I’m not going to stand in 2015 for a parliamentary seat, but I think the more MEPs UKIP have, the more influence we’ll have and the better the job we can do.
What would you hope to achieve for Yorkshire and the Humber over the course of the next parliament?
Well I think that Yorkshire and Humberside’s issues are very similar to issues everywhere. High unemployment is endemic. Although it is dropping, in the North here it is still around 8-9%, which is a lot higher than in the southern counties. Youth unemployment is particularly high, so that’s the main thing I would like to look at. Regenerating business and getting people back in work. Exporting more, and generally try to promote the growth of the region.
What can UKIP offer apart from a referendum?
Well UKIP as a party doesn’t have just one policy about leaving the EU. Maybe 10 or 15 years ago, people were of that impresssion, but certainly not now. UKIP is the party is for bringing the power back to this country to govern from Westminster, but also we’re for small government and low taxation, and we’re for giving people local referendums, and making a choice at local level, and promoting localism. At local level, local people know where the problems are, they know what needs addressing, and they know where the money really needs to go.
What is the main downside of the UK’s EU membership for Yorkshire and the Humber?
We have to look at the fuel prices. We have a very high rate of fuel poverty in Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire because we have to meet our renewable energy targets. And in Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire we seem to be intent on building an awful lot of wind farms which do not generate enough electricity. It’s a very expensive form of energy.
But shouldn’t we invest in renewable energy or prepare for the effects of climate change?
We could look at nuclear power. We could look at fracking and investigate that more closely. We obviously need to invest more in flood defence, but we also need to stop building on flood plains. If you build on a flood plain, I think somewhere along the line you may expect it to flood. So that’s number one. But with the situation with housing, people are building and building. I think we should take a tip out of Holland’s book. They actually do build on flood plains but they build different sorts of structures that can cope with flooding. That’s something we should look into, because we are having to build houses at a great rate to accommodate our population, so there’s no way around having to build houses.
Do you think there are any upsides to EU membership?
The only pro that I can think of is the fact that we have direct contact with a lot of European people. UKIP is not against Europe, we’re against being governed by a European Union.
UKIP has been criticised for poor attendance in the European parliament. If elected would you attend regularly?
Yes, I will attend the parliament. That’s for certain. I think that you’ve got to be responsible. If somebody has voted for you to go over to the European parliament and represent them, whether they voted for you because you have an anti-EU stance, or because you think the EU is the most fabulous organisation in the world, you have a responsibility to do your job.
As a candidate who wants to leave the EU, what role do you hope to play in Brussels?
UKIP is not there to play ball with the EU. We are there to look at the legislation, and make sure that people in this country are aware of European legislation and directives and how they are formed. But if you are there on days when there is no need to be there, that’s not very honourable. If you are on some committees that you think you can be useful on, and direct things in the favour of our country and make a difference, then you should attend those committees. But there is no point going there just to be on that gravy train, which is what I would say the majority of MEPs do.
UKIP latest billboards say “26m people in Europe are looking for work. And whose job are they after?”, with a finger pointing out of the page. That’s just scapegoating, isn’t it?
No, not really. There are these numbers of people in the EU looking for work, and what’s disappointing is that in the EU there are a lot of British jobs advertised for people to come over here and work, and that’s fine. But it doesn’t work the other way. There are hardly any jobs in advertised for British citizens to go over and work in Europe.
So you’d like to see more British workers emigrating?
No. I’m not saying I want our British citizens to go. I want them to stay here and work here. What I’m saying is that it’s got to be a leave playing field. While you’ve got countries in Europe that do not have the same economic status, do not have the same health status, and we have no control over people coming who have criminal records, then free movement of migrants doesn’t work.
What reforms would do you think its most important to push for in the EU if we do remain a member state?
You can’t reform it. You can’t renegotiate. The EU will not reform anything. They constantly push things through until they get what they want. So there is no reform for our country or the EU within the EU.
What would you like the UK’s relationship with the rest of Europe to be in 15 years’ time?
We want to come out of the European Union and into the world. We want to trade with Europe and the Commonwealth and the rest of the world. You do not have to be in a political union to trade at all. You have to have trade agreements, which can be put in place.