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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 October, 2004, 21:56 GMT 22:56 UK
New donor offers UKIP his support
Paul Sykes
Paul Sykes believes the UKIP has 'blown it'
A new donor has offered to help fund the UK Independence Party after its largest contributor withdrew support for the general election campaign.

Kent businessman Alan Bown, who has already donated 500,000, said he would make good "any shortfall" caused by millionaire Paul Sykes' withdrawal.

Mr Sykes, who has donated 1.4m, thinks UKIP will achieve little more than unseating Eurosceptic Tory MPs.

The party has pledged to fight most seats at the general election.

Mr Bown told BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight he would "continue to fund any shortfall that's necessary through Paul's withdrawing".

He added: "Two hundred thousand pounds would be no problem. I'm not saying I can raise 1 million overnight, but I have a considerable property portfolio and I'm happy to back whatever it takes."

Nigel Farage, UKIP's leader in the European Parliament, said the news of Mr Sykes' withdrawal had been "a blow" but MEP Robert Kilroy-Silk said other donors were offering money.

Trust speech

The declaration from UKIP's would-be leader Mr Kilroy-Silk that he wanted to "kill" the Tories is understood to have been the final straw for Mr Sykes, who has twice left the Conservative Party because of its policy on Europe.

Coming just days after UKIP pushed the Tories into a humiliating fourth place in the Hartlepool by-election, Mr Sykes' declaration was a boost for Michael Howard who gave his first conference speech as Tory leader on Tuesday.

The thing is not to buy off people who are thinking of voting for UKIP
William Hague, Ex-Tory leader

Mr Howard said the party must not make promises it could not keep and pledged to sack ministers who failed to deliver.

Mr Sykes told BBC Radio 4's Today programme there was little chance in a first past the post voting system of UKIP getting any number of MPs elected.

"There is only one major party now that is anti-Brussels, that is for repatriating powers," he said.

"I am at least warming to what I am hearing from the Conservative Party and I have no intention whatsoever of upsetting their applecart."

Mr Sykes said the Tories now seemed to be "waking up to the fact that it is not a bad idea to make our own laws in our own Parliament by our own people, rather than importing them from unelected Brussels".

But he said he had not decided to fund the Tories and denied negotiating with the Conservative leadership.

Carried away?

UKIP MEP Mr Farage said the party had lost sight of its key objective amid the euphoria over recent election results.

"We have never been about UKIP as a party, as a tribe, being the most important thing," he told Today.

John Redwood, shadow cabinet minister
Redwood says he has been arguing the Tory case with Sykes

"The most important thing to us is we get out of the EU and get back to a simply free trade agreement."

Mr Farage also rebuffed Mr Kilroy-Silk's leadership ambitions, saying there was no appetite for "any kind of internecine warfare".

Leadership wrangle

However, Mr Kilroy-Silk told the BBC he was "relaxed" about Mr Sykes' decision, saying that they had other people offering UKIP funding.

He did not rule out Mr Sykes funding UKIP again, and said he believed the businessman would still fund his own personal election campaign.

The former television presenter said the party had to decide on its leadership.

But he was "not quite sure" current leader Roger Knapman had done a good job, saying the party would have a full range of policies if he had been doing the job himself.

Changing loyalties

Mr Sykes gave money to Tory Eurosceptic candidates at the 1997 election.

A year later he pledged 20m to the Democracy Movement, an amalgamation of his own anti-euro currency campaign and the Referendum Movement - set up by the late Sir James Goldsmith.

Paul Sykes on why he will not fund UKIP's campaign

Profile: Paul Sykes
05 Oct 04  |  Politics
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24 Aug 04  |  Politics
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Kilroy-Silk: I want to lead UKIP
03 Oct 04  |  Politics
UKIP stakes its claim
03 Oct 04  |  Politics

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