Local MEPs were in town today (Saturday) to give their backing to UKIP candidate Victoria Ayling’s campaign to win the Sleaford and North Hykeham by-election.
East Midlands MEP Roger Helmer, UKIP’s energy spokesman, and East of England MEP Stuart Agnew, the party’s agriculture spokesman, joined Ms Ayling on the campaign trail to discuss issues surrounding wind and sustainable energy sources, fuel poverty and the effect of Brexit on the local farming economy with local voters.
Ms Ayling said after her selection: “Being local and a serving Lincolnshire County Councillor I understand the issues we are facing in Lincolnshire. I want to put my legal and business background to good use to ensure the constituents will have the best possible champion in Parliament.”
She added: “Sleaford and North Hykeham deserve a full-time MP to fight for them at Westminster and a true ‘Brexiter’ who wants to ensure that we are not part of the single market, that we do not have freedom of movement and stop putting billions into the EU.
“I will work to get a better settlement for Lincolnshire so that we can get the infrastructure needed and to keep Grantham Hospital A&E open. A decent settlement so that our roads are fit for purpose and I don’t believe that having an elected mayor is the answer. It is a complete waste of money.”
Roger Helmer visited Heckington to talk to campaigners from Heck Off, an action group fighting proposed amendments to plans for a wind farm at Heckington Fen. He said his party disputed the merits of onshore wind farms.
Stuart Agnew said local farmers were wanting to know if they would still receive support post-Brexit and whether they would still have access to foreign labour.
Mr Agnew said UKIP was committed to offering farmers support in a simpler form. On the issue of labour he said: “There are two types of foreign workers: some have permanent jobs and there is no way UKIP is saying they should be sent away if they have come here legally. For the other, seasonal workers picking fruit and vegetables, we want to reintroduce a seasonal agricultural workers scheme to bring in harvest labour similar to when the EU was smaller.
“We would want the farmers and growers to take responsibility for the workers, to house them and make sure they return to their own countries afterwards. We cannot keep our doors open to 500 million people just to get easy access to fruit pickers, we have to control migration.”
He said a proper work permit system would work better and cut down on exploitation and migrants. He dismissed fears that food prices might go up on leaving the EU, leaving it to market forces.
Commenting on Ms Ayling’s chances of surmounting the Tories’ 24,000 vote majority at the last election, he said: “We want to make a big impression. We are seeing a revival in the Liberal Democrats - they are talking about rejoining the EU, which is the last thing we want. It is up to UKIP to say this (Brexit) is what the people wanted.”
He was excited to have an energetic, female candidate to dispel some of the old image of the party.
The by-election is to be held on December 8 after the resignation of Tory MP Stephen Phillips.
Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is expected to visit the town for a campaign rally tomorrow afternoon (Sunday). He will join their candidate Jim Clarke on the doorsteps.
Other candidates standing are Dr Caroline Johnson (Conservative), Ross Pepper (Lib Dem), Marianne Overton (Lincolnshire Independents), Paul Coyne (Independent), Sarah Stock (Independent fighting to save the NHS), Peter Hill - aka The Iconic Arty-Pole (Official Monster Raving Loony Party), David Bishop (Bus-Pass Elvis Party) and Mark Suffield (Independent).