Nigel Farage has rejected concerns that Ukip’s campaign is flagging, saying on Wednesday that he is now pretty sure of winning South Thanet.
The Ukip leader predicted he is on course to enter parliament, despite a ComRes poll suggesting he is behind and Lord Ashcroft’s survey of marginals showing the party has dropped by up to 10 points in some areas.
Amid signs that Ukip is getting squeezed nationally, Farage has taken the last two days off his personal campaign to tour target seats in the West Midlands as well as Grimsby and the north-east.
Farage has previously said he would step down as leader if he fails to win a parliamentary seat this time, but on Wednesday declared: “I don’t think that is going to happen somehow.”
Asked if that means he is going to enter parliament on 8 May, he said: “Yes. I am pretty confident. Odds of 13-8 – it is a bit like buying money.”
If he does lose, the Ukip leader indicated that his successor would probably have to be an MP, narrowing the pool of candidates.
“If it is not there is a potential for conflict, so it is more than likely to be an MP,” he said.
The party is only predicted to win between four and six seats at the election and has already seen its support fall since the beginning of the year in the opinion polls to less than 14%.
Asked about the Ashcroft data published on Wednesday, showing support for Ukip dropping in 10 areas, the Ukip leader said: “There is a limit to what we can do – we have not got £20m, we have not got that big professional [campaign].
“All I have seen is Ukip firming in the polls in the last few days. There is a definite firming in the Ukip vote, of that there is no doubt. Twenty-nine days to go – anything can happen.”
On his tour he spoke at public meetings in Grimsby and Boston, but only took questions pre-vetted and read out by a moderator.
The Ukip leader also cancelled a visit to a pub over concerns about his security, leaving supporters waiting for more than an hour, after some young protesters gathered outside.
Earlier, he unveiled a billboard of a fisherman next to a slogan: “Gutted. Tony’s business has been ripped apart by the EU.”
However, Tony Rutherford, the 59-year-old fisherman featured in the billboard, said he was not yet sure whether he would vote for Ukip or the Tories.
This article was written by Rowena Mason, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 8th April 2015 18.54 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010