The UK Independence Party hopes to make big gains at the local elections on 2 May. Following its successful second place finish in the Eastleigh by-election, the anti-EU party is putting up 1,745 candidates across England and Wales - the highest number it has ever fielded.

Deputy leader of Ukip Paul Nuttall predicts that with growing anti-EU sentiment, the UK "will probably be out of the EU by 2020". But could Ukip ever become a mainstream political party? As YouGov president Peter Kellner has noted, Ukip's current popularity in the polls indicates that it has become the protest party of choice.

"It's attracting support from people who feel strongly about immigration and, more widely, people who are right of centre unhappy with the performance of the Conservative government," he says.

"Ukip is getting the kind of right-of-centre protest vote that 20 years ago, when the Conservatives were last in power, used to go to the Liberal Democrats. But because the Lib Dems are now in the coalition government they're not getting those protest votes. They've got to go somewhere so they're going to Ukip."

Even prominent rightwing figures have derided Ukip's chances of reaching Westminster. Author and Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens declared: "Ukip is a nuisance party.

"As with all such parties it exists on the fringes of politics, it has no hope of power. That makes it by its very nature irresponsible."

As part of our special video report on the rise of Ukip, IBTimes UK sat down for an exclusive interview with deputy leader of the party, Paul Nuttall MEP, to question him on what the party stands for and what he really thinks Ukip can achieve in future elections.

Click Here to Watch the Full Interview


Ukip Leader Nigel Farage Urged to Act Against Homophobic 'Fruitcakes'

Former BNP Extremists Infiltrate Ukip Membership

Ken Clarke Hits Out at Ukip 'Clowns' as Dirty Tricks Row Deepens

Suspended Ukip Candidate Anna-Marie Crampton: I Was Hacked