POLITICS
17/06/2015 13:49 BST | Updated 17/06/2015 13:59 BST

Nigel Farage Admits There Are 'Better' People To Lead EU 'Out' Campaign, But Will Tour Labour Heartlands

Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire
Embargoed to 2245 Thursday May 14Ukip leader Nigel Farage during filming of the BBC1 programme Question Time, in Uxbridge. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 14, 2015. Photo credit should read: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire

Nigel Farage has admitted that not everyone likes him and that there are "better" people to take charge of the 'Out' campaign in the European Union referendum.

However the Ukip leader insisted he would still play a major role in the debate and revealed he would be going "on tour" across the country in the Autumn to inject some "energy" and "enthusiasm" into the anti-EU argument.

David Cameron hopes to renegotiate for Britain a looser relationship with Brussels and then ask the public to back that new arrangement in a referendum before the end of 2017.

Polls suggest the public currently supports the UK's membership of the EU. And speaking in Westminster today, Farage acknowledged that the 'Out' side of the argument was in a state of "paralysis".

Some eurosceptics, including Ukip MP Douglas Carswell, have hinted it would damage the case for Brexit should Farage take the lead - given his unpopularity among a large section of the population.

Farage said today: "I'm not for one moment making a bid to say 'Farage must be in charge or everything'. I think it would be better if it was someone from outside the world of politics, who had no political baggage.

"When that structure gets set up and the official 'No' campaign gets put in place, we will put our shoulder to the wheel and make it clear we will work with anybody to achieve this goal." He added: "As far as my role is concerned, look, not everybody likes me, I accept that."

Speaking in Westminster at the launch of pamphlet designed to expose "falsehoods" about EU trade, Farage said Ukip would be playing a "absolutely vital" part of the 'Out' campaign. "We are the only eurosceptic organisation that has a structure on the ground in all four corners of the UK. We have a membership approaching 50,000. We are here because we want to have this battle. We want to win this battle whatever happens.

"The fact we managed to get four million people still to vote Ukip despite the swing that happened to the Conservatives because of the fear of the SNP shows actually our potential to reach the broad public is there."

Farage also warned that as most Conservatives eurosceptics we waiting until see what deal Cameron could strike with other European leaders before choosing which side of the debate to fall, "there is a little bit of paralysis" in the 'Out' campaign.

"Our job is, we've got to crack on with the public information campaign. I will be doing that from the Autumn, I'm going to be back on tour."

"In the complete absence, it would appear, of an organised, sizeable, Labour campaign to encourage the 'No' vote, who is going to go round the Midlands and the North? Who is going to go around those Labour areas? Who is going to motivate non-voters to take part in this referendum? ... I am as well placed to do that as anybody."

Yesterday the government defeated a backbench Tory rebellion against its plans to change the referendum rules. Unlike in previous referendums, the prime minister wants ministers and officials to be free to make pro-EU statements in the month leading up to polling day.

Farage said this would allow the European Commission to spend money promoting an 'In' vote and was designed to "load the dice against" the 'Out' campaign. Asked whether he would have liked to see more Tory MPs rebel against the government in yesterday's Commons vote, he joked: "I generally support rebellions in parties - providing its not happening in my own."

In what appeared to be a deliberate show of unity, Farage was joined at today's event by Carswell and MEP Patrick O'Flynn. In the week following the election Farage had a public falling out with both men.