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Farage predicts Ukip 'earthquake'
Ukip is on course to "cause an earthquake" by winning next year's European elections in what will effectively be a referendum on Britain's future EU membership, Nigel Farage believes.
The eurosceptic party's leader will tell activists gathered for its annual conference in London that Britain is "moving Ukip's way" on issues such as benefits, education and Europe.
And he will put a tough line on immigration at the heart of his pitch to voters - warning the Tories that failing to block an influx of Bulgarians and Romanians to the UK will lead to a ballot box hammering.
In a frank admission, he will accept that the media spotlight has exposed unpalatable views among its "eclectic" membership and that he had a "blistering row" with outspoken MEP Godfrey Bloom. But he will insist that the party is "a free-thinking, egalitarian party opposed to racism, sectarianism and extremism" of all kinds.
On Thursday Mr Farage was forced to defend himself against claims he was viewed as "racist" and "fascist" when at school. Channel 4 News said it had obtained a 1981 letter expressing concerns that he was being made a prefect at Dulwich College despite worries about his stated views.
The letter is said to detail allegations including a young Mr Farage having "marched through a quiet Sussex village very late at night shouting Hitler youth songs".
Mr Farage described the Hitler youth song allegation as "baloney" and said he was a bolshy teenager who pushed the boundaries of debate further than he perhaps should have done. He also rejected suggestions he was excluded for making racist remarks.
At Friday's conference, Mr Farage will express confidence the party will see hundreds more councillors elected in May's local elections and that it will have more members than the Liberal Democrats within 18 months.
Mr Farage is expected to say: "I'm taking nothing for granted but I think we're going to do well in the European elections. My ambition, my conviction is that we can come first and cause an earthquake."
Asked about the allegations that Mr Farage sang Hitler Youth songs as a teenager, Nick Clegg said it would be an "unhealthy development" to start judging politicians by what they said when they were school. The Deputy Prime Minister told LBC 97.3: "He denies it completely. I just think if we are going to start moving to a time where we start saying you said this when you were 12, therefore you are not fit now to occupy a public office I think that would probably be a pretty unhealthy development."