Speaking exclusively to The Irish Post ahead of a closely watched by-election in Rochester and Strood, Ukip parliamentary candidate Mark Reckless revealed the party’s “official policy” on Ireland.
“People have moved around these islands since time immemorial and Irish people are welcome in the UK under longstanding bilateral arrangements,” said the Tory defector.
“The changes we want to make are to apply an Australian-style points-based system to people from countries in the EU and outside of the EU, but it will not apply to people from the Republic of Ireland,” he added.
The second-generation Irishman, whose Co. Sligo mother came to England at the age of 17 to train as a nurse, went on to claim that Irish people in Britain are “not immigrants”.
“I don’t consider myself to have an immigrant background,” he said.
“I don’t see my Irish mother as an immigrant any more than I see my Scottish wife as one.”
Yet foreign nationals from elsewhere across Europe remain unwelcome in Nigel Farage’s party’s plans for the country, confirmed Reckless, who is tipped to win back his Kent constituency seat this week.
“People are attracted to our policies on immigration,” he says, “having proper controls and restrictions on people coming into the area from eastern and now increasingly southern Europe, which people, including those of an Irish heritage, feel is holding back wages and opportunities for them in our labour market.”
Meanwhile, as voters prepare to head to the by-election polls on November 20, the Conservative party is seemingly preparing to fail.
Earlier this week Tory sources revealed the party expected to lose the Kent battle, which prompted a fierce reaction from former Prime Minister John Major - who branded Ukip as “un-British in every way”.
Should “optimistic” Reckless be returned to Westminster for the far right party this week he will become the second Ukip candidate to win a seat in parliament this year.
Fellow Tory defector Douglas Carswell became the first elected Ukip MP in October, after triggering a by-election in his Clacton constituency after his defection in August.
See tomorrow’s edition of The Irish Post, out Wednesday, November 19, for the full interview with Ukip's Mark Reckless.