A TOP UKIP leader believes Sunderland could be its “wild card” for a win in the General Election.
The party’s deputy leader Paul Nuttall was on Wearside during a visit to the region today.
He chatted to shoppers and workers in Blandford Street in Sunderland city centre as he campaigned ahead of the local and general elections in May.
While not confident of huge gains in the North East, he said Wearside could result in returns for the party in Westminster.
He said: “The thing about the general election is it’s throwing cards up to see which way it will fall.
“I don’t think there’s any way to predict which way it’s going to go in this election.
“I think it’s the most unpredictable election since 1974 and I think if you throws us into the mix with the other three, it’s quite obvious we are entering a new age of British politics.
“It’s politics for the 21st century.
“I think for Sunderland, we just don’t know.
“I know that we are targeting seats across the country, but I certainly feel it could be one of the wild cards right across the North of England.
I might be on Sky or the BBC on the night saying ‘Wow, I can’t believe it, we’ve taken Sunderland.Paul Nuttall, UKIP’s deputy leader
“I might be on Sky or the BBC on the night saying ‘Wow, I can’t believe it, we’ve taken Sunderland.”
Passers-by shouted “Don’t Vote UKIP” during their visit, while one man shopping shouted Sunderland would be a “UKIP town” at campaigners.
The party had 400 members in the region three years ago but now has around 3,000 which, it claims, is equal to the Liberal Democrats.
It will field candidates in each of the Sunderland constituencies.
Its prospective parliamentary candidates are Richard Elvin in the Houghton and Sunderland South area, Aileen Casey in Washington and Sunderland West and Bryan Foster in Sunderland Central.
The party also has 25 candidates running in the Sunderland City Council elections and 21 in the running for posts on Hetton Town Council.
UKIP will publish its election manifesto next month.