Ukip could win enough MPs at the 2015 general election to help form the next government, says party leader Nigel Farage.
In an MSN interview, Mr Farage predicted his party could win a sufficient number of MPs to be required to help form a coalition government – although he acknowledged he would not become prime minister in 2015.
A key condition of any deal would be the holding of a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, signalled the Ukip leader.
But he attacked the Tory, Liberal Democrat and Labour leaders after David Cameron claimed Ukip contained some “pretty odd people”. Mr Farage said he was “odd” in that he had worked in the real world unlike that “bunch of college kids”.
Asked about Ukip’s electoral prospects, he said the party would fight hard in upcoming local and European elections as a stepping stone to the 2015 UK general election.
“If, as the Lib Dems proved in the 80s and 90s, you can build up a base by targeting sensibly at district and county council level then the perception in a constituency becomes 'do you know what these guys have got half a chance'.
“And if that’s what people think, then it may become true,” said Mr Farage.
“I am not going to become prime minister in 2015.
“But I tell you what, if the Liberal Democrats could become big enough to be needed to form a coalition, it is not completely beyond the realms of possibility that if Ukip won enough seats somebody may need them to form a coalition.”
If that happened, he said the priority would be a “full, free and a fair referendum in this country so that the British people can decide their own future”.
Hitting back at David Cameron’s comments, he said: “Compared to him and Miliband and Clegg, I mean hands up, I’m odd – very odd.
“Do you realise I actually had a job once, no honestly, really. I went out and earned a living, and then for nine years I ran my own company and I employed people.
"I’ve lived and breathed and worked in the real world unlike those three, who are a bunch of college kids who went straight from Oxbridge into research offices, and frankly have not really done a day’s work in their lives.”
On mass immigration, he said Britain had reached its “level of absorption" in the short-term, although he wanted skilled people to come to Britain – not least to pay lots of tax.
But a distinction had to be drawn between the right to settle somewhere and claim benefits, and being able to come to a country on a work permit.
“That’s what Ukip want. We want work permits but not open-door mass immigration,” said Mr Farage.
“We’ve got to say that nobody is entitled to benefits in this country until they’ve been here for five years and obeyed the law.”
He also said he planned to stock up on Sugar Puffs in the wake of calls for government action to tackle unhealthy food.
"Government go away. We can make our own minds up," said Mr Farage.