UK Politics

Nigel Farage: 'I've been ruthless' with UKIP candidates

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Media captionNigel Farage: "We've done everything we can to give the electorate fair and decent people"

Nigel Farage has said he will continue to be "utterly ruthless" about dealing with UKIP general election candidates who "step over the line".

The UKIP leader said unsuitable people had been "weeded out".

MEP Janice Atkinson would have no future in the party, he said, if an inquiry on Monday found she knew about attempts by an aide to allegedly make inflated expenses claims.

Mr Farage also ruled out any cut to the top rate of tax in UKIP's manifesto.

Appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Mr Farage said his party's tax policy would focus on helping "struggling Britons" and those at "the lowest end of the income scale that have suffered the most in the past five or ten years".

UKIP has been under pressure in recent days after two of its general election candidates were suspended and one resigned from the party.

Ms Atkinson, an MEP for the south of England and a prospective candidate in Folkestone and Hythe, faces a disciplinary hearing on Monday after a member of her staff allegedly tried to overcharge EU expenses.

Mr Farage said he would not prejudge the hearing but if Ms Atkinson in any way knew what her aide had done, she would have to step down "without any shadow of doubt".

The UKIP leader said he could not stop "one or two of his candidates saying silly things" but that he had acted to get rid of those bringing the party into disrepute.

"I have been utterly ruthless as UKIP leader with people who have stepped over the line, whether it is with financial mismanagement or saying things that have, frankly, erred towards racism," he said.

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Image caption Janice Atkinson faces a disciplinary hearing on Monday

"I accept that things sometimes go wrong but when they do I deal with them," he said, adding that UKIP had run credit checks on its candidates.

UKIP will be giving more details of its economic policies on Monday, including ensuring no-one on the minimum wage pays any tax and scrapping inheritance tax.

While cutting the top rate of tax was a "long-term goal", Mr Farage said it was not an immediate priority and would not feature in the party's manifesto.

"It is the struggling Britons that we think need help."

Mr Farage said his party would also set out "genuine" savings to cut the deficit, including "pretty radical cuts" to bureaucracy and management in the public sector.

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