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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 June, 2004, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
TV chef is UKIP's latest recruit
Rusty Lee
Rusty Lee rose to fame in the 1980s
Former TV chef Rusty Lee is the latest celebrity supporter to join the ranks of the UK Independence Party.

Jamaican-born Ms Lee has told officials she has ambitions to become a UKIP MP at the next general election.

The party, which wants complete withdrawal from the EU, quadrupled its numbers of MEPs from three to 12 at the European elections.

UKIP's Mike Nattrass said: "Rusty is an extremely jolly individual who will get on well with the electorate."

She gets everybody laughing and she's got a lot of commonsense
Mike Nattrass

Ms Lee, who rose to fame in the 1980s on TV-AM with Anne Diamond, expressed her interest in UKIP's policies after she bumped into Jan Kilroy-Silk, wife of the party's brightest star Robert, while out shopping.

She then rang Mr Nattrass, now MEP for the West Midlands, to ask how she could help the campaign.

"She said she was interested in what we were about and could she get involved," he told BBC News Online.

Able speaker

"It soon became apparent she would actually like to stand for UKIP as an MP which is excellent. She is now going to go through the selection process.

"She believes in our cause, that Britain should have a free trade agreement with the EU and that we should be politically independent.

"She gets everybody laughing and she's got a lot of commonsense.

"Anybody who can cope with a television audience as she has done must be capable of speaking to the public."

A UKIP spokesman would not be drawn on whether the arrival of Ms Lee in its fold would give the party the multi-cultural boost it needed.

Celebrity count

"Our position is why should it make a difference? Her race or colour is immaterial - she's British," he said.

Now UKIP is busily trying to find a suitable seat for Ms Lee, who lives in Kidderminster with her German husband.

While Kidderminster would be an ideal spot for the popular character, Mr Nattrass said the party will not be putting up a candidate against Independent MP Dr Richard Taylor, who secured the seat after fighting to save the town's hospital.

"UKIP won't stand against him because we agree with his campaign, but I am sure we could find somewhere else for Rusty in the West Midlands."

Rusty Lee's membership of UKIP boosts the party's celebrity quota, which so far includes former chatshow host Mr Kilroy-Silk, actress Joan Collins, cricketer Geoff Boycott and disgraced ex-Tory Cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken.



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