Britain is threatened by the “largest migratory wave in its history” – and its three main parties are doing nothing about it – warned UKIP leader Nigel Farage, as he put immigration at the heart of his party’s campaign strategy for the May European elections.
In a characteristically rousing speech at the party’s Spring conference at the south Devon seaside resort Torbay, received with a standing ovation by the party faithful, Farage said: “It is not extremist to talk about immigration: it is the responsible and right thing to do.”
Since 2004, he noted, there has been a “doubling of youth unemployment,” and a reduction in wages because the labour market has been distorted by “massive oversupply” from immigrants desperately seeking work from the failing economies of the Eurozone.
“Last year saw a 40 per cent increase in migration, most of it from the EU. Ordinary families are paying the price.”
“In scores of our cities and market towns our country has become frankly unrecognisable.
There are now places, he said, where it is uncommon even to hear people speaking English. “This is not the kind of country we want to leave to our children and grandchildren.”
What once might have been considered an “extremist” view, he said, is now shared by 80 percent of the British population. As well as making the European debate respectable, he said, UKIP has made the immigration debate respectable.
Farage promised that UKIP would address domestic issues after the May European elections, when it would also release a new manifesto which, unlike its predecessor, “doesn’t resemble War And Peace.”
Until then, though, it would focus on immigration and the iniquitousness of Britain’s relationship with the EU. Farage said he had every hope that UKIP would win more votes in the Euro elections than any other party.
“This is it. This is the big one for UKIP. The one we’ve been waiting for. We can top this polls.”
The UKIP leader also joked that he hoped to enlist the support of his favourite pin-up, European Commission Vice President Viviane Reding, in his campaign.
“No really, I love her. She’s a godsend,” he said to sceptical hisses from his audience. “She said that 70 percent of our laws are made in Brussels and it’s true they are! And she said that the British were too stupid to make a sensible decision about a referendum.”
“That’s why I’m personally prepared to pay for her to speak in every major British city in the run up to the EU election.”
Farage closed on the rousing note that UKIP would “make patriotism as respectable idea once again”. Earlier in the day he was cornered by the BBC, who asked him about the party’s new slogan: “Love Britain, Vote UKIP”, which the Guido Fawkes blog pointed out was strikingly similar to that of the extremist British National Party.
Farage responded robustly, “The National Front use the Union Jack, we haven’t burned them all have we? Come on… To hell with the BNP or anyone else… It’s our slogan now. Love Britain, Vote UKIP. Not changing it. Keeping it forever. Keeping it until the day we exit the European Union, get back control over our borders, get back control of our country, and get back a sense of self respect of who we are as a nation”.
Raheem Kassam also contributed to this report