UKIP’s Paul Nuttall didn’t get the warmest of welcomes out on the campaign trail on Friday.
The Bootle-born party leader was heckled by a member of the public as he visited Little Lever in Bolton South East, where UKIP came second behind Labour in the 2015 general election.
The unidentified man shouted an expletive at Nuttall as he got into a car in full view of reporters on a the rainy campaign visit.
It comes just weeks after the party’s official campaign launch was disrupted by anti-racism protesters.
UKIP is fielding candidates in three of the four constituencies in Bolton and has four seats on the council.
Despite its vote share plummeting and being able to hold onto just one of its council seats at the local elections earlier this month, Nuttall claimed UKIP has ‘a brilliant future’ and will have more members and higher poll ratings in 18 months’ time.
He said: “I am confident that our poll ratings will go up as the campaign progresses but there are a huge bank of people in the North, in the Midlands and in working class communities in the South who will never ever vote Conservative. Period.
“And they are not going to vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour because they see him as unpatriotic and they see him as unrealistic and a throwback to the 70s.
“These people will go out and they will vote UKIP.
“UKIP has a brilliant future ahead of it. In fact I predict that in 18 months’ time UKIP will be bigger in terms of members and in terms of poll ratings than it has ever been before.”
Nuttall, who is standing as a candidate in Boston and Skegness after being defeated by Labour in the Stoke Central by election earlier this year, said people who voted Leave in the EU referendum would return to UKIP ‘in droves’ if they are let down by Theresa May.
He said the party’s policies resonated with working class people and it had “a great opportunity of taking votes en masse, not just from the Labour Party but also from the very few Conservatives that are still left”.
On his brief visit to the Nuttall met Sheikh Islam, 39, who runs Sheiks restaurant, and promised he would come in for a meal the next time he was in the area.
Mr Islam said he had been a Labour voter but started supporting Ukip when he followed the progress of former leader Nigel Farage.
“There have been a lot of promises that have been made in the past but they have not been done. I know Ukip will make big changes,” he told reporters.
British-born Mr Islam, originally from Oldham, said he liked the party’s policies on immigration.
He said: “I think it has come to a point where it has to stop now. It’s too full.”