Page last updated at 16:04 GMT, Monday, 20 April 2009 17:04 UK

'Lend your vote' says UKIP leader

Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage said it was a chance for Welsh electors to register their frustration over the lack of a referendum

The UK Independence Party (UKIP) in Wales launched its European election campaign, arguing most people share its view that the EU provides a poor deal.

Party leader Nigel Farage called on electors to now "lend us your vote" to put pressure on Gordon Brown to hold a referendum on EU membership.

Mr Farage said it was time to stop sending £40m per day to the EU and to give "British jobs to British workers".

He insisted it was also vital to regain control of immigration and UK borders.

UKIP Wales launched its campaign in Cardiff flanked by a giant image of Winston Churchill.

After beating the Welsh Liberal Democrats to fourth place at the last European elections in 2004, UKIP believes an increasing number of people could now be prepared to "lend" it their votes.

Mr Farage said this would send a clear message to the prime minister after he pushed the ratification of the European Union's Lisbon Treaty through the UK Parliament without first consulting voters.

He added: "This Labour government was elected promising us a referendum on this constitutional treaty - they haven't giving it to us.

"And what we're saying to the voters of Wales is - use these elections.

"Go out there, lend your vote to UKIP and send a message to the big parties that you're very unhappy with what they've done and you demand that they come back to you and give you that referendum."

To win one of Wales's four seat in the European Parliament, the party will have to appeal not just to disaffected Conservatives but also to traditional Labour voters.

UKIP insists that, with a strong sense of British patriotism and a history of opposition to membership of European institutions, it offers a credible alternative that will find favour in old Labour circles.

'Lost their country'

UKIP's lead candidate in Wales, John Bufton, said the fact that he was a former Labour Party member demonstrated that his party was made up of "all sorts of political parties".

"We've already found, with the work that we've been doing in the valleys, a lot of old Labour members are switching off from the New Labour scenario," he said.

"They're seeing now that they want to go back, they feel that they've lost their country.

"They feel that they've got no rights anymore and they want someone to stand up for them.

"We can do that."

UKIP believes that the more votes it wins, the more pressure there will be on the next Labour or Conservative Government to address the issue of Europe, and to hold a meaningful referendum.

The elections take place on 4 June.

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