In this candid interview with UKIP leadership candidate Suzanne Evans, Shy Society asks her about policy, the direction she would take the party in and a whole lot more…
First Suzanne, the big topic on everyone’s lips: Brexit. Is Theresa May’s Government doing enough? And do you fear backsliding on the eventual deal?
It’s been more than four months since the referendum and nothing has happened. We are still sending £millions to Brussels every day, our borders are still not secure or controlled, our fishermen are still prevented from fishing our own territorial waters, and our own supreme court is still not supreme but subject to the whims of the European Court of Justice. May is definitely not doing enough and I will not stop campaigning to get out of the EU until we are actually out.
You’ve previously mentioned that a key aim is to get more UKIP MPs into Parliament by “beating” the FPTP system… is it not better to push for a total reform of the voting system? Or does that come later once UKIP are an established force within the House of Commons?
We need a constitutional convention to reform a whole variety of democratic failures – including FPTF; the House of Lords; devolution and the question of an English parliament; the increasing blurred boundary between parliament and Whitehall when it comes to law-making. UKIP under my leadership would push for such a convention to resolve all these issues, yes, but especially voting reform.
What would be your top three policy priorities (in any order) if you became leader and why?
1. Repeal the 1972 European Communities Act: Leave must mean Leave and it should mean now.
2. End health tourism. People work long shifts on low pay to put their taxes into our NATIONAL health service, not an international one. It is being abused at a time when we more than ever need more money and resources for patient care.
3. Break the stranglehold London has on the country – a huge policy area entailing many different policies across education, transport, business, taxation… but I’m determined to do it.
What would you say to people who argue that taking the party to the “tough centre” is just making it another wing/strand of the Conservative Party?
It’s not about the ‘centre’ and I completely reject characterisations of left, right or centre. UKIP is a patriotic, common sense party like no other. UKIP under my leadership will have a clear identity of its own, very distinct from Labour and the Tories.
And what do you think needs to change in UKIP to professionalise it? Would you reform the NEC for example?
Yes. The NEC is the members’ body so it needs to be far more transparent in its dealings. I also believe there should be regional representation on it. But most important is turning us into a winning machine. That means more joined-up thinking and nationwide engagement and more training for grassroots supporters. It also means being a supportive, team-focused leader as well as a strong, determined one.
Finally Suzanne, would you be able to truly unite the party given the animosity from some within the party towards your leadership bid? Some have argued you wouldn’t be the right person to win over key Labour heartlands in the north, what would you say to this?
Rubbish. I was brought up in the West Midlands and I’m still based there much of the time. I went to university in the north – in Lancaster – and I have huge support from among our members countrywide as well as a crucial ability to engage with and get on with anyone from any background. Of all the candidates, I reckon I’ve had the toughest life – a pretty impoverished background and I’ve struggled significantly as a single mum. Still do. I’ve also got extensive experience working with ethnic minority communities. If anyone can engage with the Labour heartlands, it’s me…
Thanks very much for your time, Suzanne!
Standing up for those without a voice in Britain