‘If you think about it, he is a loser’ - Sir Roger Gale rips into Nigel Farage as former Ukip leader ponders whether to return to Thanet
PUBLISHED: 10:03 20 April 2017 | UPDATED: 15:15 20 April 2017
Jean-Francois BADIAS / AP
Mr Farage was defeated by Craig Mackinlay in the Kent seat at the last general election in 2015
Sir Roger Gale has made an early jibe in the battle for Thanet at this summer’s snap general election by describing Nigel Farage as a “loser”.
The Conservative stalwart, 73, told us there was “no way” he was going to put his feet up as he confirmed his intention to defend the Thanet North seat he has held since 1983.
In the south of the district, Mr Farage is yet to confirm whether he will stand once again, though party leader Paul Nuttall said earlier in the week he expected his colleague would.
Mr Farage was defeated by Craig Mackinlay in the last general election but has said on numerous occasions he would “probably” contest a by-election in the Kent seat if it were triggered as a result of a spending scandal, in which the Conservative Party was slapped with a £70,000 fine by the Electoral Commission.
Any suggestion of such a re-run has now been ruled out by Theresa May’s decision to call a general election for June 8.
Though with Mr Farage having failed to win a seat in parliament on seven separate occasions, he has been written off as a threat by the Tories, who are confident of a resounding victory, not just in Thanet, but across Kent, and nationwide.
“If you think about it, he is a loser,” Sir Roger told Kent News.
“He’s got what they call ‘previous’, he’s lost seven times and I can’t see the public voting for him.”
Sir Roger has blasted Ukip over the Manston airport saga, in which the party made a pre-election pledge in 2015 to get planes flying again - a pledge that has not been delivered thus far.
Thanet District Council leader Chris Wells has denied making any such promise.
While work continues to obtain a development consent order for the site, its existing owners are moving ahead with their own plans for homes and leisure facilities on the site, insisting they will respect its unique heritage in doing so.
However, current Ukip leader Mr Nuttall hinted that the airport may still have a future on a visit to Margate last week.
“Farage and Wells promised they would re-open Manston and they lied, they have not done it,” Sir Roger said.
“They didn’t say ‘we will open it if RiverOak come forward with the money’, they said they’d re-open the airport and they have failed.”
Mr Farage, an MEP for the south east, said he would decide in the next couple of days whether he would stand, but insisted he would win if he did put himself forward for an eighth time.
“I’m still leading a group in the European Parliament where, of course, ultimately there will be a veto over the whole Brexit deal and where the negotiations will take place over the next two years and I’ve got to weigh up where am I best to be in terms of having an impact on Brexit and perhaps warning the British public that it’s not going in the direction it should be,” he said.
Mr Farage also suggested he lost in South Thanet in 2015 “perhaps in circumstances that weren’t entirely fair but we’ll let the Crown Prosecution Service decide about that”.
Mr Mackinlay, with the backing of Sir Roger, maintains he had not done anything wrong.