Bolton (United Kingdom) (AFP) - Britain's UK Independence Party initiated a "political revolution" that is only just getting started, Brexit spearhead Nigel Farage told a party conference Friday.
"It was a year of political revolution, and the most remarkable thing about it is it was all started by UKIP," he said, referring to the Brexit vote, Donald Trump's election and Italy's referendum in 2016.
Former UKIP leader Farage said the tumult of last year, which led to the downfall of British prime minister David Cameron and Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, was part of "something very much bigger" in the Western world.
"The change in public attitudes towards politics, towards the political class, towards large sections of our establishment liberal media -- those changes in attitudes are absolutely fundamental," he said.
"Everything that happened in 2016 confounded the experts all over the world.
"And there is this view that it's impossible for (National Front leader) Marine Le Pen to win in May," he said of the French presidential election.
"Anyone who makes that prediction is taking a real chance with their reputation and their career."
New UKIP leader Paul Nuttall also addressed the party conference in Bolton, northwest England -- his first since taking over from Farage in November -- as he bids to take the parliamentary seat of Stoke-on-Trent Central in a by-election next Thursday.
- Campaign troubles -
Nuttall's election campaign has been hit by his admission this week that he did not lose "close friends" at the Hillsborough stadium disaster in 1989 -- a claim made on his website.
The deadly crush at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough football stadium left 96 people dead.
Nuttall accused critics of a "coordinated, cruel and almost evil smear campaign".
Nuttall also slammed the main opposition Labour Party, which has always held the Stoke-on-Trent Central seat that he is trying to win.
"I am more confident than ever that UKIP will eventually replace the Labour Party as the voice of the patriotic working class," he said.
Farage hit out at those urging UKIP to become "mainstream".
"This attitude is not UKIP. UKIP is a radical party or it is nothing," he said.
"We need to be leading the political conversation, not trying to sound like all the rest."
Former Labour prime minister Tony Blair on Friday urged Britons who support EU membership to "rise up" and persuade Brexit voters to change their mind about leaving the bloc.
Nuttall said he had been asked what the point of UKIP following the referendum and Blair's intervention "proves why UKIP is more important than ever.
"We must ensure that the establishment figures do not try to subvert the will of the people."
Melanie Roberts, 64, who attended the conference, said victory in Stoke could "set the ball rolling" for the party.
"UKIP should be replacing Labour because we are the true party of the people, because we are representing what the ordinary grassroots people are wanting," she said.