BRITAIN’S big three political parties would love UKIP to disappear. Reading comments made by the party’s new leader, Henry Bolton, in Hartlepool, some of our readers might quite like them to leave the political scene too.

Adopting an intentionally inflammatory tone, Mr Bolton claimed "rapid immigration" was "swamping British culture". Many will find his comments distasteful.

Others will agree with them though, and that is why we cover UKIP in the same way as all other parties. We question and challenge their views, but will not ignore them.

Loading article content

The reality is that a large number of people in the North-East and North Yorkshire hold reasonable concerns about the UK’s immigration policy.

Those concerns played a part in our region's majority support for Brexit. Yet almost a year-and-a-half after the vote to leave the EU, the two leading parties are still wrestling with how best to address the issue of immigration.

The Conservatives appear keen to outflank UKIP by shifting to the right, although senior members of the Government are so caught up in the intricacies of Brexit they seem to be ignoring all other policy areas.

Labour’s approach to immigration has been to bury their heads in the sand. The issue is a difficult one for Labour because it pits a large number of their voters, who cite increased immigration as a problem, against Jeremy Corbyn and his closest allies, who are instinctively against any measures curbing movement.

Ignoring the issue plays into UKIP’s hands though. If Labour are serious about preventing UKIP’s rise in areas like the North-East, they have to tackle the party head on. That means framing a coherent policy on immigration and being prepared to defend it in public.