UKIP leader Nigel Farage has praised incoming member Patrick O’Flynn for making the Daily Express the first newspaper to back the party’s anti-European Union stance.
O’Flynn, who is the paper’s chief political respondent, was unveiled as a party member with a view to running as a Member of European Parliament this weekend at a conference.
Introducing him to members, Farage said: “He is known to all of you. He is a bit of a hero within the eurosceptic movement because, without him, I think there is no doubt that the Daily Express would not have taken that move to be the first national newspaper to advocate that Britain leaves the European Union.
He added: “Patrick’s hand in that was very, very important. And I know something. He is liked, admired and respected across the lobby. People like him. He is a journalist of integrity. He is a journalist of principle and has become a fully paid-up member of the UKIP and for the first time today he will address us as a UKIP member and tell us what his plans are.”
O’Flynn said: “At long last the media and newspapers other than just my own have been forced to take up, take note and sit up and realise that UKIP is a mainstream party and a fast-growing party – not a minor party, not a fringe party at all.”
He added: “I think I could look back on this time and say I made a difference by helping make the Daily Express Britain’s first better-off-out national newspaper.
“I believe I have done something to change the media climate towards the idea of leaving the EU and towards UKIP itself.”
O’Flynn said that rather than “sit on the sidelines and congratulate myself for being ahead of the game on this one” while colleagues have only recently started coming around to his view, he is joining the party to make more of a difference.
“So I’ve come to the view that my biggest contribution over the period ahead could be as a UKIP MEP fighting full time alongside Nigel as part of his team to free Britain from the embrace of the undemocratic European super state."