Kevin Smith: The new face of UKIP

Kevin Smith came to the UK when he was seven
Kevin Smith came to the UK when he was seven

UKIP has chosen Keven Smith, an Indian-born businessman, as its parliamentary candidate in Hove.

UKIP has chosen Keven Smith, an Indian-born businessman, as its parliamentary candidate in Hove.

Mr Smith, 61, was seven when his family came to the United Kingdom, with only £50 to their name.

He joined UKIP as recently as April. Before then, he had never been involved in politics.

A Hove resident - with three children and three granddaughters - he was partner in a car dealership, until he sold his stake in 2006 and retired.

In an exclusive interview, Mr Smith said: "If I don't like something, I go and change it. But I've never done that before in politics.

"The statements UKIP were making were right for me. It's time that Britain started looking after British people, especially in times when the economy is so bad. We need to look after our own people. Charity starts at home."

He denied the party was racist or xenophobic: "I am from an ethnic background myself; I'm Anglo-Indian. I know the difference between giving a helping hand to people who have contributed and those who come here just to live off our benefits."

Mr Smith said he expected to take votes from both the main parties. "The other parties have driven their voters away by not listening to them," he said.

With his three sisters, he came to Balham with his family from Mumbai (then Bombay) in 1961, when his father got a job with British Rail.

In the mid-1960s, the family - all Catholics - moved to a terrace home in Brighton.

Leaving school at 16, Mr Smith swept floors in a garage before becoming a motor mechanic and then a salesman, working his way up to sales and marketing director for a BMW dealership. He set up his own business - MaxMatt - in 1997.