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Last Updated: Friday, 5 October 2007, 20:12 GMT 21:12 UK
UKIP prepares for battle over EU
By Sean Curran
BBC News political correspondent

Nigel Farage must be the only leader of an opposition party in Britain who is not taunting Gordon Brown with cries of "bring it on" every time talk turns to the prospects of an early election.

Nigel Farage
Mr Farage was elected UKIP leader in September 2006

The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) leader is prepared to admit that his party is not ready for an autumn poll.

It doesn't have the funds to fight a campaign right now and has not selected its candidates.

What's more Mr Farage doesn't believe the other parties are ready either - no matter how often they claim to be desperate to go to the country.

'Between wars'

UKIP has had a difficult year and is still embroiled in a row with the election watchdog, the Electoral Commission over funding.

The watchdog ruled that the party should be made to pay back more than 300,000 in donations.

A court later ruled that UKIP only had to forfeit 18,481. The Electoral Commission is appealing against that ruling.

One of the highlights of this year's conference has been the announcement of EU whistle-blower, Marta Andreasen as the party's new treasurer.

Mrs Andreasen, the former chief accountant for the European Commission, was sacked after she refused to sign off the Commission's accounts.

Referendum

The party's annual conference is being held in a 1930s art deco former cinema in east London. Black and white photographs of Hollywood stars line the walls.

And at times there has been a "between the wars" feel to the debates.

After a period of silence the European Union is once again the subject of political debate with cross-party calls for a referendum on what the government calls the proposed reform treaty.

However critics, including UKIP, argue it is simply a re-working of the EU Constitution rejected by voters in France and the Netherlands two years ago.

Mr Farage believes that Gordon Brown is unlikely to offer a vote on the new EU treaty but thinks the prime minister might call a referendum on Britain's continued membership of the European Union.

That, the UKIP leader says would put his party centre stage. And the party faithful here in east London are certainly ready for that political fight.



SEE ALSO
UKIP demands immigration 'freeze'
05 Oct 07 |  UK Politics
Appeal against UKIP donor ruling
28 Aug 07 |  UK Politics
UKIP fails to win council seats
04 May 07 |  UK Politics
UKIP needs to broaden appeal
12 Sep 06 |  UK Politics
Profile: Nigel Farage
12 Sep 06 |  UK Politics
Profile: UK Independence Party
28 Jul 06 |  UK Politics



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