UKIP’s new leader has said British culture is being “swamped” and also criticised what he called “career politicians” from other parties.

Henry Bolton spoke to The Northern Echo on a visit to the North-East during which he popped into the Cosmopolitan pub in the historic Headland area of Hartlepool, a UKIP stronghold.

The 54-year-old is a former British Army captain who served on peacekeeping missions with NATO in Kosovo and was awarded an OBE for his work with a reconstruction team in Helmand, Afghanistan.

He said: “We had a bad year in 2017 and want to make sure our party learns the lessons of that and re-organise the party to get it fighting fit to enter properly into the whole Brexit debate and refresh our policies and so on.

“But we also want to better represent the communities that our elected representatives represent, particularly those outside the South-East, which gets most of the attention, which is why I am in Hartlepool now.”

Mr Bolton, who has also worked for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and is a former policeman, said that increasingly people living in certain areas of the country were nervous and uncomfortable with the rate of change in their communities

He said: “A lot of it is down to very rapid immigration which needs to be managed correctly. We are not very good at that as a country at the moment.

“We welcome all other cultures, but what is happening to British culture? It is being swamped by all of the others.

“If we are preserving other cultures in this country we have a right to preserve ours as well. That does not mean that we should subdue others, it means we have as many rights as they do as British people with a British tradition and history. Let’s celebrate that as part of our rich tapestry.”

On Brexit, Mr Bolton said the Conservative Party had been given a mandate to take Britain out of the European Union, but were “sliding”.

He said: “The whole reason that UKIP wanted to leave the EU was so that we could take control of our own destiny going forward and we can’t do that if we are compromising all the time and nobody is exercising the leadership that the country needs.”

Mr Bolton said he believed skills he had developed dealing with different people and concerns would come in useful.

“They are useful in managing the party and they are also useful in dealing with other parties who don’t have anything but career politicians,” he said. “They don’t know the real world.

“Lets’ talk about Islamic terrorism if you want, I have been almost blown off my feet by a suicide bomber. Let’s have a decent, respectful conversation and be real.”

John Tennant, the leader of UKIP on Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “We welcome Henry up here.

“He has a wealth of experience and knowledge and I am very confident he is going to do a good job.

“In the North-East there is only one genuine opposition and that is UKIP and over time I am confident that we can push forward.”