Ukip’s unknown new leader has said Islam leaves Britons feeling “buried” and claimed multiculturalism is “swamping” British identity, in a speech setting out the party as a nationalist voice.
Henry Bolton, who shocked many by winning the leadership on Friday, said the country should be “proud to be called British” in his maiden conference speech, which dismissed suggestions Brexit will make the party irrelevant.
By the time he spoke in Torquay on Saturday, most journalists had left after hardline anti-Islam candidate Anne Marie Waters failed to win the leadership, pushed into second place by ex-soldier Bolton.
Before his speech, he told The Sun and the Press Association: “There is a concern amongst the population writ large that there is an undermining through general immigration and the weight of numbers that we’ve got - and Islam as well - that our culture is being buried by this.”
As he addressed delegates, Bolton said many of the journalists who interviewed him since his shock win asked whether Brexit would be the end of Ukip.
“Leaving the European Union is but the first step to taking control of our own destiny,” he said, in which Ukip would push for “a secure, prosperous and optimistic and confident nation. A nation that is considered by its friends and allies, and Commonwealth abroad”.
When he described a Britain that was “proud to be British”, he produced and waved a small flag to cheers.
To frequent smatterings of applause, Bolton lamented that people “have little or no voice” in how their communities are changing.
He said: “Doctors’ surgeries are being closed, police numbers are being cut, and crime is increasing, multiculturalism is swamping or displacing our own British culture.”
“This does not create the optimistic, confident nation that we all wish to be.”
In an apparent defence of Britain’s colonial past, Bolton said: “We will ensure that our schools teach history, and that if people don’t have pride in what their forefathers achieved, they themselves will achieve nothing worthy on the part of their successors.”
The speech involved audience participation. He asked if people thought the Tories would lead Britain out of the EU, to a near universal response of “No!”
He mocked Theresa May’s Florence speech about Brexit, saying her offer of a transitional deal showed “the UK does not want to leave the EU in anything but name”.