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UKIP's Dudley North candidate Bill Etheridge: I dream of being Prime Minister

UKIP's Bill Etheridge revealed he wants to be Prime Minister as he launched his General Election campaign in Sedgley.

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UKIP's Bill Etheridge launching his General Election campaign in Sedgley

The West Midlands MEP and Dudley councillor told a gathering of supporters at Lime Indian restaurant in High Holborn yesterday: "If I had one dream I would be Prime Minister tomorrow. Don't believe politicians who say they are not ambitious."

The comments came after he was asked what other job he would like to have if he wasn't UKIP defence spokesman.

At the campaign launch, Mr Etheridge unveiled a list of the policies he will be campaigning on in the three-way marginal Dudley North constituency, including cutting so-called 'sin taxes' on alcohol, cigarettes and fuel.

He also revealed he had 'had it out' with UKIP leader Paul Nuttall over 'a few beers' regarding UKIP's proposed burka ban, which Mr Etheridge is opposed to.

But he said Mr Nuttall remained his 'best friend in politics'.

"As good friends do we disagree and I told him what I thought the other week over a curry and a few beers," he said.

"But let me be clear, Paul is the only man or woman for the job of leading UKIP as long as he wants to."

Mr Etheridge gave a lengthy speech at the Lime Indian restaurant and unveiled several policy pledges

Mr Etheridge said he would be challenging Labour's Ian Austin and Conservative Les Jones over their records on Brexit and what they had delivered locally.

He also accused them of 'stealing' UKIP policies and playing up to the referendum result to pander to UKIP voters.

He said: "Where were Ian Austin and Les Jones in the referendum campaign? They certainly weren't here. Now they are stealing UKIP policies of an Australian-style points based immigration system or saying they were for Brexit. Well my message to Ian and Les is welcome aboard, I've got spare UKIP rosettes for you and you can join us campaigning."

Mr Etheridge said he chose to launch his campaign in Lime Indian restaurant to 'put to bed once and for all' that UKIP is racist or anti-immigration.

He said: "I have deliberately launched my campaign here because it is a fine example of a hard-working business that really supports the community and shows that we are tolerant of people of all background, colour or religion – and they make damn good curry."

He added: "Immigration does make a positive contribution to our society. No-one would ever say no to the world's greatest brain surgeon coming here. What we are opposed to is uncontrolled immigration – that is very different."

He said there was a place for UKIP despite the referendum and a wipeout of councillors at last week's local elections.

"Locally people recognise what UKIP has done," he said.

"We stopped Labour's tax hike in Dudley, saved the Hippodrome, forced the council to save money through new procurement procedures, stopped a move to fortnightly bin collections and donated our pay rises to community forums. Just think what we could do if I was an MP."