UKIP director of communications and MEP Patrick O’Flynn has praised his former newspaper, the Daily Express, for the political pressure it has exerted in the debate over EU membership.
O’Flynn worked for the Express for 17 years before leaving his role as chief political commentator to join UKIP (leader Nigel Farage pictured: Reuters) last summer. He has now been elected MEP for the East of England after UKIP polled 27.5 per cent of the vote in elections for the European Parliament, beating both Labour (on 25.4 per cent) and the Conservatives (on 23.9 per cent).
In a column for the Express today, he has predicted that Britain can “get our country back”, and said that the Daily Express deserved a medal for "editorial valour” over its coverage of UKIP.
He also used the column to criticise some newspapers for turning against a party which he said shares their views on a number of political issues.
“There was no doubt that the establishment would attack UKIP during the European elections campaign.
“But I have been taken aback by the ferocity of the onslaught, both from left wing activists and media allies of the establishment parties,” he wrote.
“Newspapers that ostensibly agree with UKIP on many political issues have run smear stories with glee – though I am heartened to be able to exempt the Daily Express from that charge as it was the one paper that gave us a fair shake throughout.”
Citing his former newspaper’s “Better Off Out” campaign on the EU, O’Flynn said: “I know the Daily Express and you – its magnificent army of readers – will continue to fight shoulder to shoulder with UKIP and against the Brussels super state.”
He said that the Express along with UKIP have forced the Conservative Party into promising an in/out referendum on EU membership and predicted Labour and the Liberal Democrats – if the party “still mattered” – could be forced into making the same offer.
He added: “There are now nearly 40,000 members of UKIP and hundreds of thousands more people who march in step with our People’s Army.
“But I shall always regard the Daily Express as the media wing of the Better Off Out movement.
“Can we get our country back?
“You bet we can.
“And when it is done and we hand out the campaign medals, the Daily Express will surely merit a citation for editorial valour.”
Earlier this month, O'Flynn made headlines by interrupting his UKIP leader Nigel Farage's interview on LBC.
O'Flynn told interviewer James O'Brien the broadcast had "massively" overrun when Farage was asked about his expenses.