Boston and Skegness ‘on UKIP most wanted list’ - with ‘every possibility’ Neil Hamilton could bid to stand

Neil and Christine Hamilton
Neil and Christine Hamilton

Boston and Skegness is said to be one of 12 target seats for UKIP at next year’s General Election according to national media reports - with party officials braced to choose who they want to fight the seat.

Sky News has today reported on internal UKIP polling which highlights a dozen seats the party wants to target heavily next May.

The station states the full list is: North Thanet, Forest of Dean, Sittingbourne and Sheppey, Aylesbury, East Worthing and Shoreham, Great Yarmouth, Thurrock, South Thanet, Eastleigh, Portsmouth South, Boston and Skegness, Grimsby.

There is said to be a wider list of 25 targets, but the 12 outlined are thought to be those set to be most aggressively pursued.

Boston and Skegness UKIP chairman Robin Hunter-Clarke was not aware of the polling but said the news was no surprise.

He told The Standard: “I don’t think there’s any doubt that Boston and Skegness is going to be a key seat in the General Election.

“Quite clearly that will be the case because of how well we did at the county council election and how well we polled in the European elections.”

UKIP’s vote was higher in Boston than anywhere else in the country for the European Parliament elections this year - with 52 per cent of voters backing the eurosceptic party.

Attention now turns to who the party will select to fight the seat, with the race taking on a different dimension now sitting MP Mark Simmonds has decided not to stand again.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage is expected to be chosen as the candidate for South Thanet this evening, but deputy chairman – and former Tory minister – Neil Hamilton remains linked with the seat.

Coun Hunter-Clarke told The Standard he will preside over the selection process as party chairman and will act as agent for the candidate when they are chosen.

He revealed applications close later this week and said he does not know who has applied.

The names are likely to be whittled down to a shortlist of five before a husting event, due to be held on September 11. The decision could come the following morning.

Coun Hunter-Clarke told The Standard he would not be surprised if Hamilton is among the contenders.

He added: “I think there is every possibility. Neil will be looking for a seat he can win. I don’t know if he has applied, I will know later this week.

“There is every possibility he will throw his hat into the ring.”

Whoever is chosen, Coun Hunter-Clarke is braced for a busy campaign, with the spotlight firmly on the constituency and party resources set to be poured into fighting for the seat.

He told The Standard: “I am pretty sure that that will happen because of how the seat is seen.

“There is going to be a focus by the party and by the media as well.

“It is exciting times.”

It is still not clear who will be chosen by the Conservative Party now that Mark Simmonds has opted not to continue in his role. He had previously been chosen by the branch to fight for another five years as the constituency’s represnetative in Parliament.

Wild rumours of Boris Johnson making the move to Lincolnshire have proved to be just that, as the Mayor of London today applied to be the candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip.