Brexit transitional period unacceptable, says new UKIP leader

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Mr Bolton is UKIP’s fourth leader in just over a year

Theresa May has given away the UK’s stance on Brexit and shown Britain does not want to leave the EU in “anything but name”, UKIP’s new leader has said.

Henry Bolton said a two-year transitional period for leaving the EU was “unacceptable” and Britain must be prepared to “get out now”.

He accused the Tories of deliberately “dropping the ball” as he addressed his party’s annual conference.

Mr Bolton also said multiculturalism was “swamping” British culture.

The former army officer waved a British flag as he took to the stage at the party conference in Torquay to Pharrell William’s hit song Happy.

He started by asking members whether the UK was any closer to dictating its own borders or concluding trade deals to which he was answered with cries of “no”.

Mr Bolton told the conference the Conservatives “cannot be trusted” to take Britain out of the EU or even govern the country.

“The government, far from offering strong and stable leadership, has proven inept and unable to set and pursue clear strategic goals.”

He said UKIP had a moral obligation to ensure that Britain leaves the EU and the “fight back starts here today”.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Theresa May used a speech in Florence to set out proposals for a two-year transition period after the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.

Mr Bolton said she had effectively asked for everything to stay exactly the same as it is.

“Far from strengthening the UK’s hand in Brexit negotiations, the prime minister’s speech in Florence gave it away,” he said.

“The message she sent was that the UK does not want to leave the EU in anything but name.”

‘Communities changing’

He said a Brexit transitional period was “unacceptable” and Britain must be prepared to leave the EU straight away.

“We are getting out of the EU because we care about the future. Leaving the EU is but the first step to taking control of our own destiny.”

Mr Bolton also told members that multiculturalism was “swamping or displacing our own British culture” and many people saw their communities changing without having a voice in how they were shaped.

He said immigration was overwhelming public services and harming “our own culture, traditions and way of life”.

However, he stopped short of repeating UKIP’s 2017 pledge to achieve zero net migration.

Earlier he told reporters he would not commit to putting a figure on immigration as it was “entirely unrealistic” and “we need to be a lot more practical and operational about it”.

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