Ex-Sheffield maths teacher launches bid to become new Ukip leader

North East MEP Jonathan Arnott, who represents UKIP.
North East MEP Jonathan Arnott, who represents UKIP.
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A former Sheffield maths teacher is running to become the new leader of Ukip.

Jonathan Arnott, who grew up in Handsworth and is now an MEP for the North East, has announced his candidacy to replace Nigel Farage.

Mr Arnott, aged 35 and a former teacher at Handsworth Christian School, said he hopes to give Ukip a wider appeal and will hold the Government to account to ensure it delivers Britain’s exit from the European Union.

He said he would be a ‘northern voice’, representing working-class people ‘who feel completely despised by the Conservatives and abandoned by Labour’.

Mr Arnott added: “I think a positive vision for how we see the future, how we see life after Brexit, the things we want to do and the things we are for rather than what we are against will go down very well in Sheffield and other places. The theme of my campaign is reaching out to the 13.6m people who voted for Brexit but didn’t vote Ukip at the last election.”

Mr Arnott, who was general secretary of Ukip for six years before becoming an MEP in 2014, said while the way the party presents its policies may change if he was elected leader, the substance of them will not.

“The policies are right, we don’t need to change the policies,” he said.

“On immigration, the party is not anti-immigration - we are anti-uncontrolled mass net immigration. I don’t think that is unreasonable. The reason is the impact it has, it drives down wages, it does cost jobs. We can’t have the kind of immigration that has the negative social consequences that come with the lack of control.”

He said Ukip must ‘hold the Government to account to make sure Brexit means Brexit’. Mr Arnott said: “Worryingly, under Theresa May, negotiations for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will be in hands of those who do not actually want us to leave. The Labour Party is of course in complete disarray, so quite frankly UKIP represents the only alternative to the establishment and will be the only unifying force for Brexit.”