Ukip chairman sets election expectations: We've never been about winning power

UK general election 2017: What you need to knowNewsweek

Ukip chairman Paul Oakden has claimed that his party has "never been about winning power" and told IBTimes UK that he is going into the general election on 8 June with "realistic expectations".

The Eurosceptic group, with the Brexit vote in the bag and Theresa May adopting the party's pro-grammar schools stance, is as low as 2% in the opinion polls. Ukip saw a similar result in the 2010 general election under former leader Lord Pearson.

But despite fielding 180 fewer candidates than seven years ago, Oakden predicted that his party will perform better at the polls than in 2010.

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"I'll be honest, I was starting to look a little bit apprehensive a couple of weeks ago," he said.

"But having seen the arrogance of the Tory Party, Theresa May doing her U-turn on social care, people are now turning around and saying 'what else will there be U-turn on?'

"What we had expected, and to a certain extent what we understood, is that there would be a large number of traditional Ukip voters who would lend their vote to Theresa May and the Conservatives to get Brexit through in the Commons.

"Given her performance in the past week and a half, people are genuinely starting to ask whether or not she we will fulfill on that promise."

Oakden, who spoke to IBTimes UK before Conservative MP candidate for South Thanet Craig Mackinlay was charged over allegedly overspending in his campaign against Nigel Farage in 2015, said he would be "surprised" if Ukip won a seat at the election.

"I would be very surprised if we won a seat, but I wouldn't be astonished," he said. Oakden highlighted the Essex seat of Thurrock, where Ukip MEP Tim Aker came a close third in 2015, as potential surprise victory for Ukip on 8 June.

As for a the future of the party, a senior Ukip source told IBTimes UK that a rebranding exercise was dropped because of the snap election, whilst Oakden said Ukip's message is "starting to resonate" again.

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The latest opinion polls from Survation, of more than 1,000 people on 3 June, put the Conservatives on 40%, Labour on 39%, the Liberal Democrats on 8% and Ukip on 5%.

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