Murnaghan 3.03.13 Interview with Nigel Farage, UKIP

March 03, 2013


DERMOT MURNAGHAN: Now then, before the break I spoke to the Romanian Foreign Minister, Titus Corlatean. He told me it is fundamentally wrong for the United Kingdom to fear huge numbers of Romanian workers coming here when restrictions are relaxed next year. Well I’m joined now by a man who has been warning about that for a long time now, the leader of UKIP Nigel Farage, very good to see you Mr Farage. You heard what Titus Corlatean had to say there…

NIGEL FARAGE: I did, yes.

DM: And he said like it or not, we are in the European Union and as many Britons are free to go to Romania as they are to come here and they’re free to come back aren’t they?

NF: Oh really. I’m sorry, I don’t really think that …

DM: Well you know what I mean.

NF: No, because when the European Community was countries like Germany and the Netherlands and us, we could go and work there, they could come and work here. What none of us ever did was move around countries for welfare benefits. Now what we’re dealing with, with Romania and Bulgaria are countries where, well in the case of Bulgaria nearly half the population is living below the poverty line, there is an obvious attraction for those people to come to this country, to try and get jobs but if they can’t get jobs they’ve now got the safety net of Job Seekers Allowance, Housing Support, the health service and education for their children.

DM: But Mr Corlatean feels that on that, people like you have been stigmatising them, they are no worse than any other nation and he says he’s had bilateral discussions, discussions with the UK, senior UK government representatives and he’s been assured that Directive 38, you’ll know what that’s all about, Directive 38 will be implemented and they will have all the rights that they expect as an EU citizen.

NF: He’s right, there’s one regard in which he’s right and that is this, we are signed up to the European Union and all the while we are members of it, there is nothing we can do to control the number of people that come here from any other European country and their immediate entitlement to the entire social security system of this country. Now I’m not against Romania or Romanians but I do think the point has come with youth unemployment at 22% for us to say enough’s enough, let’s have a controlled migration policy into Britain and not an open door. Mr Cameron’s problem is there is nothing he can do about this, he’s completely impotent to deal with this issue. There is one simple answer though – let’s have a referendum and sort it out.

DM: Okay, even if we got that entrenched, we wouldn’t have it before 2014 and stop the Romanians and Bulgarians coming.

NF: We could organise a referendum for this autumn without any difficulty at all.

DM: Okay, that’s your solution is it, what about restricting benefits, restricting access to the National Health Service?

NF: We can’t do that, we can’t do that, we can’t do that. We have signed up to the rules of a club and Cameron goes on pretending that somehow we are going to restrict benefits to Romanians and Bulgarians, we are not. The European Commission and the European Court will make sure that we don’t.

DM: That’s a message I know resonated on many of the doorsteps on Eastleigh, I heard it articulated myself. Do you think it’s long before you get the next, the first UKIP MP and could it be you?

NF: Well we came damn close on Thursday, we really did.

DM: A lot of people are saying if you had stood it would have been you.

NF: Well, listen, we had a superb candidate in Diane James, there is no evidence to suggest I would have got any more votes than her. What was remarkable was that it was a very short by-election, three weeks from start to finish and for us to get a surge of that size in such a short space of time shows that people are resonating with what we are saying. The Sun today have written it off, oh it’s just a protest vote. No it isn’t, it’s a rejection of three political parties who have all become social democrats and who don’t even want to talk about issues like Romania and Bulgaria.

DM: But they do want to talk about then what happens, they want you to flesh out your offering, your UKIP offering. I was talking to a guy who said I was thinking of voting UKIP but I had a look on the website and I couldn’t quite understand what UKIP is about. Just to paraphrase what he said to me, he said you’re going to get rid of the smoking ban, bring in a 31p universal tax rate so abolish the 40 and 50p rates so everyone is on 31 pence, you are going to build loads and loads of nuclear power stations and you are going to double the prison population.

NF: Well in terms of energy you are quite right, we are going to stop building wind turbines everywhere which will automatically cut everybody’s electricity bill because we’re all paying a 12% surcharge to finance this rubbish. We want Britain to be self-sufficient in energy so we will need nuclear power stations but there’s a shorter term problem than that, next year our six biggest coal fired power stations are going to be closed down because of an EU directive and what we’re saying is that meeting this God of carbon emission targets is damaging British business.

DM: Just moving on, 31p tax rate universally over £11,500?

NF: No tax on minimum wage, the abolition of national insurance and the simplifying of the system so that we don’t pay tax and national insurance, we just pay one rate.

DM: So billionaires pay 31p?

NF: They would pay a bit more, they would pay 40 but what we mustn’t do is head down this current route where we’re talking about people who are successful as somehow being wicked and bad. I fear a return to the 1970s. You’ve just had a debate and the European Union wants to limit the bonuses that people in financial services earn, they’re all called bankers these days but actually it’s insurance people and …

DM: I mean these flat taxes ….

NF: There is a real worry about this, we have got the most complicated tax system in the world.

DM: So you are simplifying it and these flat taxes then apply across the board don’t they, so they would apply to things like richer pensioners benefits, they’d be taxed, pension funds, there is no relief for pensions under a flat tax is there?

NF: No there isn’t, there isn’t, there isn’t and that’s the stuff that we’ve got to sort out but the aim is simplification. When Gordon Brown became Chancellor the British tax code was 5000 pages long, it’s now 13,000.

DM: But a lot of the people who voted for you in Eastleigh are going to be surprised hearing that from you, Nigel Farage, they are going to be saying I didn’t know he was going to tax my pension contributions.

NF: Hang on a second, a lot of the people in Eastleigh know that we’re the one party that has said for years no tax on the minimum wage to give people incentives to get off benefits and to get back to work …

DM: But hold on, if you are a low paid teacher or nurse, you are going to tax their pension benefits?

NF: Look, that is detail we’ve got to sort out and work out.

DM: But that’s what people want to know now.

NF: Well I can’t give them, I can’t give them a full manifesto for the next general election, nor can David Miliband (sic), nor can David Cameron but what you can see with us is the direction of travel and that is no tax for those earning down at the very bottom and a mass simplification for everybody else.

DM: And get rid of the smoking ban.

NF: When you see up to 50 pubs a week closing, every pub should be able to have a back room that is a smoking room and a lot more of them would stay open.

DM: So that might be a popular one. Thank you very much indeed – especially with you! – Nigel Farage there, the leader of UKIP.

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