Nigel Farage has dismissed claims that Ukip’s policies were irrelevant to Hartlepool’s residents as he claimed the local fishing industry has been destroyed through membership of the European Union.
The Ukip leader was speaking in Room 101 of the Grand Hotel at the north east resort as part of his General Election campaign.
Mr Farage said: “Just next to Hartlepool is something called the North Sea and there used to be here a big thriving fishing industry employing hundreds of people.
“And not just in fishing but the processing and everything that went with it and that’s almost all gone. Why? Because we’ve surrendered our territorial water as members of the European Union.
“You only have to look across the North Sea to Norway and see the potential - we could have 200 miles of the North Sea off Hartlepool and yet we’ve given it away.
“Look at Iceland, look at the Faroe Islands, look at Norway - it’s big business and we’ve surrendered ours.”
Mr Farage also told his audience at the seaside town he supports the Government’s efforts to send aid to Nepal, despite his party calling for huge cuts to the foreign aid budget.
He said there was a difference between handing an “annual cheque to a dictator somewhere” and supporting emergency disaster relief.
Mr Farage said he hoped government would always be involved in the kind of help that is being sent to Nepal after the devastating earthquake that struck on Saturday.
“Foreign aid is where, what you do, you sign an annual cheque to a dictator somewhere,” he said. “But that’s totally different to emergency disaster relief, which I always want government to get involved with and, actually, as a private individual in the past I’ve been happy to get involved with.
“But there’s another humanitarian disaster because we bombed Libya, the British and the French with American support, supported by all the political parties in Britain, when people like me said it was mad, we were discounted.
“But it’s now a completely failed state and has become a conduit for human trafficking and that, I think, could become, over the next 10 years, one of the biggest General Election issues.
“What do we do? Because if all these people come by their million to Italy and Greece and are given European passports they can come here too.”