A senior Ukip politician says the party has work to do to win over Sunderland before the next General Election.
North East MEP Jonathan Arnott says that the city’s long-standing link to Labour is “not good for democracy”.
His comments came as Ukip leader Nigel Farage will tonight address an audience at the Sage Gateshead, where he will be discussing the reasons why the party believes Britain should say ‘no’ to the European Union in an upcoming referendum.
Mr Arnott, who will also be speaking at the event, says that Ukip believes Britain would be able to trade more if it was outside the EU and that leaving would not see the loss of North East-based businesses like Nissan and Hitachi.
He said: “Winning votes in Sunderland will take a little bit longer because there’s such a huge Labour vote.
“We need to work on getting more councillors voted in to wards and over the next two or three years, show people that we can get representatives elected. That’s how we have to approach things in such a solid Labour area.
“This is a city that has been Labour for 50 to 60 years and that’s not good for democracy and we need to change that.”
He said: “We’re expecting to have those views challenged and that’s what we want. So why leave the EU? The first thing is that we’re paying upwards of £55million every single day to be members of this club.
“It has laws that affect 28 different countries at the same time and you can’t have that because every country needs different things.
“One good example is immigration. What we need in terms of immigration is very different to some of the other countries in Europe.”
He added: “In the last General Election, we gained four million votes nationally and in the North East, got the highest vote share in the country – it was 17% across the whole of the North East.
“We did a lot better than we’ve ever done before in a General Election. One of the things that saw us get votes in the North East is our ‘no tax on minimum wage’ policy. We’re the party rewarding hard work and that’s a big thing.”