UKIP’s Neil Hamilton reckons his party can carry on the legacy of former Boston MP Sir Richard Body.
The party deputy chairman, a Conservative minister under John Major, spoke to The Standard as the party searches for a candidate to take on Tory MP Mark Simmonds.
He said the party hopes to have most of its candidates in place by the time of its conference in Doncaster in September but believes UKIP can succeed in Boston by following in the foosteps of ex-Tory MP Sir Richard Body, who served from 1966 to 2001.
Mr Hamilton, famed for his distinctive bow ties, said: “He was a massive Eurosceptic and one of the rebels against John Major in my last parliament.
“He did the groundwork even before UKIP existed.”
He added: “So for 30 years the constituency, or a large part of it, had a Eurosceptic MP who wanted to take Britain out of the EU.
“The ground is very fertile.”
Boston is likely to be a key election target - with the borough giving the highest percentage of votes to UKIP in the country at the European elections.
County and district councillor Victoria Ayling - thought to be a contender for UKIP in Boston – has been chosen as the party’s preferred parliamentary candidate for the Great Grimsby seat.
Coun Ayling - who represents Spilsby Fen on Lincolnshire County Council and Stickney on East Lindsey District Council – vowed to still carry on her council roles.
She said: “I will be throwing myself into my campaign but residents certainly will not suffer as a result.”
Coun Ayling missed out on the Grimsby seat by just 714 votes when she stood for the Conservative Party in 2010.
Mr Hamilton backed her to go one better, offering support to Coun Ayling in the face of criticism in the tabloid press.
In December she then appeared on the front page of the Mail on Sunday in a story headlined “Send Them All Back Home”.
The report centred on a video in which she was said to state that immigrants should all be sent back to their country of origin.
Coun Ayling said she merely believed that anyone in the country illegally should be deported and claimed the clip was taken out of context.
Mr Hamilton told The Standard: “The entire contents of the kitchen, not just the kitchen sink, were thrown at us at the European elections, it’s all bounced off so far.
“This was just tabloid sensationalism.
“We have accepted her explanations and, as far as I am concerned, she has UKIP’s full support as a candidate.”
Mr Hamilton said he has known Mr Mitchell for 40 years and is confident that Coun Ayling could carry on his Eurosceptic political outlook.
He said: “If, as I believe, Labour will impose an all-women shortlist of Miliband clones, I think Victoria Ayling has an exceptionally good chance.”
He added: “We are hoping that now she’s in a more popular party than her previous one she will win.”