Patrick O'Flynn Election 2017

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Patrick O'Flynn

Recorded coverage of a UKIP news conference with economy spokesman Patrick O'Flynn MEP.

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Thank you, Peter, good morning, everyone. Thank you for coming


along. This is a most unusual election. Not only does the outcome


not appear to be in doubt but most commentators do not think the result


is even going to be close, so it couldn't be more different to the


contest we had in 2015. As a former political journalist I am on good


terms with MPs from across the spectrum and I haven't met a single


one over the last few weeks who doubts privately that Britain is


heading for another Tory administration with an enhanced


majority. A narrow party political times, Theresa May has time to the


contest perfectly, before the substance of EU negotiations have


got under way and while she is still on a political honeymoon at the


official opposition is in total disarray. From the point of view of


Ukip's self-interest, we could be forgiven for finding it galling that


the ever pragmatic Tory party has lately donned so many of our


clothes, and isn't it interesting, clothes, and isn't it interesting,


by the way, that Theresa May is being ferried around the country in


the very battle bus that was used for the Conservative Remain campaign


this time last year? Rather like her, it has had a message reads


comfort for Ukip is that when the comfort for Ukip is that when the


Tories are turned with a bigger Daugherty it will be with an


exquisite mandate to take Britain out of the European Union. -- a


bigger majority. The very thing that we have campaigned for for so long


and they have resisted for so long. The price of power for the pragmatic


Conservatives will have been to receive an instruction from the


electorate to return our country to the ranks of independent


self-governing democracies. Ukip candidate great pride in that


and if we can get candidates over the line in places where they are


strong, it will assist us in performing to the central role over


the coming period, that's to our pragmatic conservative colleagues


honest on Brexit. From my point of view, this corporate trait of the


Tory party to rank the attainment and retention of power ahead of


advancing a principled agenda has always been a cause of regret. In


the old question is asked, are you in politics to be someone ought to


achieve something, we even Ukip without hesitation opt for the


latter and I just hope the passage of time shows this Prime Minister is


motivated either same spirit rather than that of her immediate


predecessor who once famously remarked that he wished the Prime


Minister simply because he thought he would be good at the job. Eight


addiction but of course turned out to be incorrect. Speaking as the


Ukip economics spokesman I want to set out another challenge for the


Conservatives today. That is to shed their reputation being slavish in


their devotion to the already wealthy and well-connected at the


expense of aspirational working people. They will not achieve that,


I suggest, through gimmicks such as I suggest, through gimmicks such as


guaranteeing workers a year of unpaid leave to look after elderly


relatives. I think people will recognise that as an unfair burden


of uncertainty but small businesses and also as the government papering


over the cracks of the structural damage it's done to the social care


system through ?4 billion worth of cuts. The fact is that there is


still a stench in the political Ayr left by the recently departed


Cameron Osborne regime. A regime that for instance favoured the tax


avoiding boot over the self-employed black cab drivers and cup top rate


of tax for those earning over ?150,000 a year even as it was


taking child benefit from families earning a third of that amount. --


Uber. My challenge to the Chancellor Philip Hammond is to prove in this


election campaign via the economic policies he sets out that the Tories


are not mainly in it for the rich because despite his party's poll


rating, that is what millions of voters still believe. He could do


this in a number of ways. First and most important of all he could and


should explicitly rule out unleashing a new national insurance


raid on the self-employed. The pernicious measure he set out in his


budget and that Ukip vehemently opposed would have picked two and a


half million workers, 1.6 million of whom are basic rate income tax


payers, costing them an average of ?240 a year. When he withdrew the


measure he did so only because it contravened the terms of the 20 15th


Tory manifesto which will of course fall into obedience after this


election. The Chancellor said he still thought raising national


insurance on the self-employed was the right approach. So if national


insurance rises for the self-employed are not specifically


ruled out in the Conservative manifesto, then we will note that a


Tory tax bombshell is on the way, aimed not at the rich but at


plumbers and plasterers, electricians and taxi drivers,


hairdressers and personal trainers. All the signs are that Mr Hammond is


planning a targeted attack on white van men and entrepreneurial women,


people who work long hours to provide for their families and take


pride in their locality and donation. People who drive


themselves hard and occasionally perhaps there are fans quite fast!


Ukip will always be on the side of such self-reliant people because we


as a party or made up of people just like that, that is why we were the


only party with a dedicated manifesto chap in 20 15th about


helping small businesses. -- chapter. And that's why be wouldn't


dream of plotting national insurance hikes to make our sums add up


because we either that has the courage to confront unnecessary and


wasteful public spending programmes such as the excessive foreign aid


bill, the excessive public spending settlement for Scotland via the


Barnett formula and the vanity project of HS2. Instead of lining up


self-employed for punishment, Mr Hammond would do much better to put


some real political effort into cracking down on the big


multinational corporations which dodge tax in the UK. In the run-up


to the 20 15th election, I argued for a tax backstop to be created


that food for the biggest international companies, create a


tax obligation based on their turnover in the UK. If they were


continually unwilling to make a reasonable contribution to the


running costs of our society. So I was pleased when the Treasury came


forward with its diverted profits tax to do this very thing. Where


there was evidence of aggressive tax avoidance. But diverted profits tax


has to say the least, had a very slow start. I can only find


reference to one company being asked to make a significant payment under


it, this insipid approach and the Conservatives has come in the face


of mounting evidence of continued aggressive tax avoidance by highly


lucrative multinational enterprises. -- Diaggeo. Starbuck reported


profits of 13 million on a UK turnover of 300 pounds and


corporation tax contribution fell to just two points seven million pounds


down from the year before. I ask how can a vast as Ms that sells coffee


in paper cups all over the country for ?2.50 a pop end up paying


corporation tax contribution amounting to much less than 1% of


its turnover. With -- with the taxman be happy to accept pro rata


contributions from an independence copy shop, good self-employed


taxpayer submitting returns four times a year get away with that, I


think we know the answer to those questions and as we also know,


Cameron and Osborne's friends at the top of Uber channel many of their


businesses profits through a complex financial network in the Netherlands


thereby depriving the British public realm of significant sums. Its


behaviour like this from the big boys that calls out the UK


taxpayers, not the amount of national insurance squeezed out of


the self employed in the geek economy. Yet time and again you see


the Conservative Party giving favourable treatment to the rich and


powerful and looking like it's dumping on the up and coming. It's


not unattractive trait and neither is upon which Theresa May has yet


found a way of taming. I also challenge the Conservatives who are


stealing plenty of our policies to steal another one in the interests


of working people and that's our proposed moratorium on immigration


for unskilled and low skilled employment. In her 2015 Tory


Conference speech delivered when she was Home Secretary, the Prime


Minister herself pointed out the perils of wage compression in


working-class occupations due to excessive immigration. Is she


willing to face down the vested interests of corporate written in


the interests of ordinary working families? The jury is out on that


one but there seems little reason to be optimistic. And isn't it time as


Ukip proposes to phase out the green levies placed on every family's


domestic energy bill and paid in subsidies to already wealthy


landowners who put up when farms on their land? In the wake of the


financial crisis ordinary British taxpayers make huge sacrifices to


protect the stability of the financial system. People earning an


average of ?26,000 a year coughed up to bail out the banks, they should


have changed the economic culture in Britain but to date, it has not,


indeed George Osborne placed a very high priority on looking after the


financial services sector and now in the form of his lucrative part time


employment with Blackrock, the financial services sector is looking


after him. It's small wonder then people working in industries such as


fishing gear it they will be sold short by the Conservatives and in


the fishing industry context bartered away in Brussels for a


minor concession to the City of London. Whose mighty lobbying power


can always blow them out of the water. The economic agenda of Ukip


is to speak up not just for the left behind, but for the left out, those


who work hard to quote Michael Howard's old phrase, played by the


rules but have no special connections or market power. There's


the Prime Minister and Chancellor go out of their way to prove


differently, then despite an imminent election victory, their


party will continue to be regarded as the one that auctioned off


prestige internships for university undergraduates at one of its black


and white fundraising balls, thereby going and extra mile to ensure the


glittering prizes for the rising generation in our country are


restricted once again to a privileged minority. Ukip will


continue to be the party that speaks for those outside Tory magic circle,


if we can get representatives into the House of Commons at the


selection, that task will be so much easier. But even if we can't, that


task will be done and if we can succeed in pressurising the Tories


to change their economic outlook as we have done in changing their


European policy, then that will be another feather in our cap. In the


meantime, my head is two to two and a half million self-employed people


is to think very carefully indeed be for voting Conservative. At this


election because if you do so, you might as well be handing the


Chancellor at the very dagger he is planning to plunge into your backs.


Thank you. And has anyone got any questions? Sky News. Given the


opinion poll ratings at the weekend, your leader has spoken about staying


on the field. This election was never one to be about our vulture,


we acknowledge the political context has changed a lot since 2015 and we


never learnt in 2015 having a high vote share spread rather evenly


across the country can result in grievous disappointment. So the key


test for us is can we concentrate our vote and campaign well enough in


the areas we are very strong to get some people across the line and


also, to put down markers for the future about issues such as Brexit


being the overarching issue, things we can hold the Prime Minister to


account for over the next couple of years. I think the signs are quite


good in a good cluster of seats for we are strong and within about half


of those target seats, the canvassing returns are very


promising indeed. Thank you. Policy question, the National wage, will it


be raised or lowered, you mentioned the looked Hammond, aren't you risk


of turning into a pressure group? Ukip, I don't think anyone has ever


measured the success of Ukip according to a jar of how many


people we get into the House of Commons, we are perhaps the


political party that has also been the most successful pressure group


of the entire 21st-century in terms of the EU agenda, the debate over


mass immigration. But you know, I am setting something out and it isn't


an unusual election, it appears a foremost conclusion that Philip


Hammond will be walking back on to number 11 Downing St on less those


rumours of disagreements between him and the Prime Minister turned out to


be even more severe than we think. The Conservatives are over recent


days, claiming to be called the party of working people and I think


that's an assertion and claim that deserves to be very rigorous leak


tested and I've set up to date lots of different ways in which that


clearly is simply not true. A challenge for them to do much more


radical things, too, away from their old bias towards the well-connected,


privileged, the already wealthy. The minimum wage... On the minimum wage,


I'm absolutely behind the minimum wage and actually minimum wage with


an aspiration to be lifted towards the living wage but the level at


which a minimum wage becomes a living wage, I think depends on


other factors most notably the availability and cost of housing and


I think under current immigration and population growth trends, I


don't think anyone could be really confident in five years time the


so-called living wage really will be that. BBC News you addressed the


issue of Brexit, I hear you are railing against the axis of


business, how does your message... I don't really associate the words


lost and Brexit in the same sentence, I would rather see it as


we'd have won the issue of Brexit and actually, the price but the


Conservatives, their ratings in the opinion polls has been to accept our


agenda, apparently accept it because they've timed the selection before


the substance of negotiations has begun, before people can really test


if they are now true believers. I've set out a few examples of the Tory


party tending towards pragmatism over principle. So I think the


Brexit agenda, we are still the true believers in Brexit, we have driven


the agenda, we've now got to be there to keep the Conservatives


honest on it because they need to know, don't they, if they come away


from that, if they compromise Brexit away, there will be a political


price to pay and certainly, I don't see the voters looking to the Labour


Party, the Liberal party, the Green Party to make the Conservatives pay


the price if they come away from Brexit so I don't agree that the


word lost should be used in the same sentence as the word Brexit and


Ukip. I think it's our greatest triumph. You talked about big


business and companies, how are you distinguishing yourself? Because


unlike the Labour Party we don't want to allow continued Unlimited


immigration for working-class occupations which not only cause


wage compression and stagnation of incomes, it also puts massive


pressure on public services, on housing, and there is an employment


effect as well, whereby some of our unemployed people don't get jobs


because of excessive immigration and I think Theresa May also recognised


that in the Tory Conference speech of Autumn 2015, so we couldn't be


more different, I don't really think a Labour Party that is still


proposing no limits on immigration into working-class jobs and


neighborhoods can possibly claim to be the party of working people and


The Telegraph. You have said the be believed.


The Telegraph. You have said the Conservatives have largely accepted


your agenda. Will you become part of the Conservative Party? I don't


think that will happen at all. I'm almost certain it won't. There have


been instances of people moving from the Conservatives to Ukip and from


Ukip to the Conservatives in the ebb and flow of politics. But I am


absolutely certain that Ukip distinctive party is going to


continue. We will continue picking up items in the political agenda,


whether that is now to do with the excessive foreign aid bill at the


cost of underfunding for our National Health Service, whether it


is as being bowled on the integration agenda, -- whether it is


us being bold on the integration agenda. Yes, we are all for a


multinational immunity, but everyone must subscribe to our values of


freedom of speech and the law. I absolutely don't think there is


going to be any soft merger, if you like, between Ukip and the


Conservatives. We believe different things and we have a different


approach to politics. What about the need to rebrand the party? More than


any other party, Ukip is tied to a single identity. I think it is a big


task and it was a task that Paul was task and it was a task that Paul was


preparing over the months ahead with a significant staging post being the


party conference in 2017, in the autumn. Before all party leaders


were rudely interrupted by the Prime Minister foreshortening the


Parliament. That will be a task in the years ahead. I still think that


Ukip can do many things but it has got to do only one thing to be true


to its roots and that is to be the guard dog of Brexit, or the


insurance policy for Brexit voted as Nigel Farage has put it, and we do


need to drive the government during the remaining 22 months of our


formal membership of the European Union. Every. -- whether we are tied


to freedom of movement, whether we have jurisdiction, what happens to


the fishing industry and our maritime zone. All these issues,


that is the first duty of Ukip. We have had many thousands of members


who fought this battle when it was incredibly unfashionable and some of


them have not lived to see the day them have not lived to see the day


of the referendum victory, and we owe it to them all to pursue that


agenda right until the end of March 20 19th, so that Britain resumes


membership of the ranks of self-governing democracies. -- March


2019. That will be Ukip's dream and 2019. That will be Ukip's dream and


our top priority until it is achieved. Aren't you effectively


helping the Conservatives by not standing candidates in seats with


Tory margins? I think I have just laid out by the achievement of


Brexit in the fullest possible way has got to be the very top priority


of Ukip. When Paul Nuttall set out our approach to this election, we


did make clear that we would be guided by the views of our branches.


Many of our branches have had conversations with sitting


Conservative members. Labour members as well in the case of Kate and


Kelvin, for example. But sitting Conservative members and


Conservative candidates in seats where a Brexit supporting


place to Remain MP. We have put our place to Remain MP. We


country before our party in standing aside in those seats. That puts a


very heavy burden of responsibility on the people who will benefit from


that to stay true to the agenda and to meet the assurances they have


given. You might see a big swing of opinion a couple of years down the


line of people we have stood aside for don't remain true to what the


left describes as hard Brexit and the rest of us describe as Brexit.


If you win no seat in the selection, will the party continue? Yes, the


cluster of target seats, which we cluster of target seats, which we


don't advertise by name, and in the best of those things are very


promising. We are on the way to promising. We are on the way


creating a political microclimate in creating a political microclimate


some places, rather like the Green some places, rather like the Green


Party very cleverly achieved in Brighton. And we would hope to get


people benefiting from that over the line. Even if we don't under first


we still have that absolutely we


overarching agenda to see through the process of Brexit for the next


two years and I think we have already begun to outline some new


political ideas and a new political agenda, that again as a patriotic


party we feel these issues need speaking up for and we can't rely on


the established political parties to do the case of the integration


crisis of our society. How many is a cluster? More than a handful and


less than a barrow full! There you go. At the back? The Daily Mirror.


INAUDIBLE. I think in that situation, the


actual initial thing would be their presence would tell a Prime Minister


who was arguing to you guys in the European Union this time last year


that there is a real political price to be paid if she compromises the


fundamentals of Brexit. Other than that it is to be there as Prime


Minister's Questions in other House of Commons events arguing the case


for our agenda on for instant reducing the foreign aid bill. Yet


again we go into this general election with all the parties


represented in the House of Commons wanting to spend more on foreign


aid, even as we see the proliferation for instance of food


banks in our own country, the health service and the social care system


crying out for more resources. And indeed this issue of integration and


British values and being patriotic about our own country. I think there


are lots of things that are Ukip MP or MPs could do and that would be


very advantageous to us but this show will go on whether or not we


are in the House of Commons and we have shown before that we can


influence the agenda from outside as well. Yes? Go on. Your candidate


numbers this time are well down. Under 400. Doesn't that show that


you can't get people to stand for you? If we had been absolutely


desperate to, I am quite sure we could have fielded a candidate in


almost every seat, as we did last time, but things have changed. The


governing party is formally committed to Brexit. I hope and


believe that when they do release their manifesto, it will say that.


Our party, our branches, many of them are regarding this general


election as a kind of second referendum, knowing that the Remain


parties will collect any bit of evidence they can glean and stumble


on to say there is buyers remorse out there. In many cases our


branches have made an active decision to stand aside because they


have had reassurance from another candidate best placed to win or hold


the seat that they sign up to our agenda of the true Brexit. I think


it is just a radically changed political context which accounts for


the fewer number of candidates. Right. Thanks ever so much.