Britain's anti-EU party UKIP will not join coalition government: Leader

AFP , Thursday 12 Feb 2015

The leader of Britain's anti-EU party UKIP on Thursday ruled out joining a coalition government, three months ahead of the country's knife-edge general election.

In his first major speech of the year, Nigel Farage, whose party wants Britain to quit the European Union, also pushed his claim for a quick referendum on leaving the 28-member bloc.

"We will not enter a coalition, no matter how tempting ministerial cars may be," Farage said at a cinema in the seaside town of Canvey Island, east of London

"We will only do a deal with anyone on the condition that there is an in/out referendum on the EU," he added, standing in front of a slogan emblazoned with the slogan "Believe in Britain".

Canvey Island is located in one of the constituencies the UK Independence Party hopes to win.

Experts say the party is likely win a handful of seats at the May 7 election but if Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives fail to win outright, UKIP could prop them up in government on an informal basis in return for policy concessions.

Farage also said UKIP would not prop up any party which refused to hold an "immediate" referendum on EU membership, in an article for The Daily Telegraph newspaper Thursday.

Cameron's Conservatives, currently leading a coalition government, and the main opposition Labour are neck-and-neck in opinion polls but experts believe neither party is likely to win enough seats at the election to govern alone.

Cameron has promised a referendum on whether Britain should leave the European Union by the end of 2017 if the Conservatives win outright but is facing increasing pressure to hold it sooner and end uncertainty.

Farage also spoke of the need to "redefine capitalism" to favour the "small man" rather than a "lethal combination" of big banks, big business and government.

The charismatic 50-year-old UKIP leader is currently a member of the European Parliament but will stand for a House of Commons seat at the election.

UKIP currently has two members of parliament (MPs), both of whom defected from Cameron's Conservatives last year.

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