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17 February 2017updated 07 Aug 2021 8:05pm

Ukip’s Suzanne Evans tells her party conference: “Don’t blame immigrants“

The Ukip health spokeswoman launched a bid for Labour's policy heartland, the NHS. 

By Kirstie McCrum

Suzanne Evans has said that immigrants must not be blamed for the crisis which the NHS was facing – adding that the blame falls at the feet of those who she says are mishandling its running.

The Ukip health spokeswoman spoke at length about the stretched health service at the party’s spring conference in Bolton on Friday about the.

She told a hall of an estimated 400 people that “red tape” is hampering those who attend medical school and nursing college, and also laid into private finance initiatives (PFI), calling them an “insane policy” that was “embraced by Labour”.

“Labour is not the party of the NHS,”she said, to applause. “Labour is the party that must never, ever again be allowed to run the NHS.”

She then paid tribute to the Labour MP Aneurin Bevan and the economist William Beveridge, who laid the foundations of the free health service, but said they couldn’t have imagined that when they founded the NHS it would become an “international health service”.

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Evans struck a markedly softer tone than the former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who once caused controversy by complaining that foreign nationals were treated for HIV.

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In her failed leadership bid last year, she declared that the party needed to shed a toxic image

Evans said in her speech: “No one in Ukip should ever blame the immigrants for the NHS crisis, because they are not to blame.

“The politicians who allowed our generosity of our country and the goodwill of our healthcare professionals to be abused, they’re the guilty ones.”

Evans said that she is determined to develop policies to fight a projected £30bn funding gap in the NHS by 2020.

She called herself Ukip’s “NHS champion”, adding: “I want to defend the NHS.”