Nigel Farage
Ukip leader Nigel Farage said the EU referendum will be his number-one priority in 2016 Getty

Nigel Farage urged Ukip to "summon every resource and energy" as the party campaigns for a Brexit ahead of the EU referendum. The date for the historic vote has not been announced, but the Ukip leader argued it would be foolish for the Eurosceptic movement to stand on the political sidelines and let David Cameron dictate proceedings.

Farage made the plea during his keynote speech at the Ukip annual conference in Doncaster on 25 September. The Eurosceptic firebrand orchestrated a chorus of boos from the Ukip faithful by name-dropping Europhile businessman Richard Branson, former Labour prime minister Tony Blair and New Labour co-architect Peter Mandelson.

Cameron, who campaigned for the referendum during the election after facing pressure from his backbenchers and Ukip, was called the "piggy in the middle" by Farage – a reference to lewd allegations Lord Ashcroft has made against the prime minister relating to his Oxford University days.

Labour's new leader Jeremy Corbyn was not left off the list of Farage's political enemies. The Ukip leader claimed the left-winger had reneged over the EU after making anti-Brussels soundings, and then promising to campaign to keep the UK in the political and economic union.

Farage also blasted so called "soft Eurosceptics" for suggesting the campaign should be started after Cameron's renegotiation with Brussels has come to a conclusion. "It would be a terrible, terrible mistake," the Ukip leader claimed. "It would play into the hands of the prime minister so that he can set terms of the renegotiation and he would set his own bar, and he would come back from Brussels claiming a great victory."

Farage also said his party should "hold its head high" after Ukip almost secured four million votes and more than 12% of the vote at the general election. The leader claimed recent opinion polls had shown the party had made popularity gains. But the most recent survey, which was conducted by Ipsos MORI between 19 and 23 September, put Ukip on just 7%.

The Eurosceptic said the party had a much better chance in next year's elections as the Welsh Assembly and mayor of London votes use proportional representation, not the first-post-the-post system.

But Farage revealed he would be putting his efforts into the EU referendum campaign. "Our message is clear – we want our country back," he added. The Ukip leader also explained his party would join forces with Ukip donor and businessman Aaron Bank's "massively impressive" Leave.EU campaign ahead of the vote.

Farage's speech was not without intended irony – he walked into with Europe's It's the Final Countdown blasting. Around 27 minutes later, Farage finished on Bruno Mars' Uptown Funk – likely a wink to the leader's call for a "positive" campaign.