UKIP started 'political revolution': Farage

Former UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage prepares to address delegates at a UKIP conference in Bolton, on February 17, 2017

Britain's UK Independence Party initiated a "political revolution" that is only just getting started, Brexit firebrand Nigel Farage said on Friday at a party conference in northwest England.

"It was a year of political revolution, and the most remarkable thing about it is it was all started by UKIP," he said, referring to the Brexit vote, Donald Trump's election and Italy's referendum in 2016.

Farage said the political tumult of last year, which led to the downfall of British prime minister David Cameron and Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi was part of "something very much bigger" in the West.

"The change in public attitudes towards politics, towards the political class, towards large sections of our establishment liberal media -- those changes in attitudes are absolutely fundamental," he said.

"Everything that happened in 2016 confounded the experts all over the world.

"And there is this view that it's impossible for (French National Front leader) Marine Le Pen to win in May. I think anyone who makes that prediction is taking a real chance with their reputation and their career," he said of the presidential election.

New UKIP leader Paul Nuttall also addressed the party conference, his first since taking over from Farage, as he bids to take the parliamentary seat of Stoke-on-Trent Central in a by-election next Thursday.

Nuttall called for major cuts in Britain's foreign aid budget, which is set at 0.7 percent of gross national income, and said sales tax should be taken off fish and chips -- a British staple dish.

- Campaign troubles -

Nuttall's election campaign has been hit by his admission this week that he did not lose "close friends" at the Hillsborough stadium disaster in 1989 -- a claim made on his website.

"Many people will notice that I've had a bit of a difficult week," he said, accusing critics of a "coordinated, cruel and almost evil smear campaign".

Nuttall also slammed the main opposition Labour Party, which has always held the Stoke-on-Trent Central seat that he is trying to win.

"I am more confident than ever that UKIP will eventually replace the Labour Party as the voice of the patriotic working class," he said.

Farage told the conference that immigration -- a key issue in last year's referendum campaign in which Britain voted to leave the EU -- was now an even bigger concern.

"People aren't interested in arguments about the economy, in arguments about growth, in arguments politicians make about jobs, they are not interested.

"And do you know why? Because they simply don't believe what they are being told.

"What people care about is national identity. What people care about is their community," he said.