BRUSSELS, Belgium – UKIP leader Nigel Farage spoke at Politico’s second Playbook Breakfast meeting in Brussels this morning, detailing his thoughts on Britain’s EU referendum campaign, the ongoing migrant crisis, and telling Eurocrats in the room that he wanted them all fired.
His speech went down well, as he joked with his hosts and the audience, but touched on the major issues of the day. He began, “I genuinely don’t really care what people think of me, which is probably just as well being in UKIP” before remarking: “I’ve been considered a maverick, an extremist, but no longer! We’ve got Jeremy Corbyn now, I’m a moderate!”
The UKIP leader and MEP said that “something quite dramatic” was happening in terms of British attitudes towards the European Union, citing the migrant crisis and a recent YouGov poll that showed more people want out of the union than want Britain to remain in.
He said that “I think it’s important in life to be judged by your enemies… Why am I so hated in Brussels? I want most of these people fired.”
Speaking on the migrant crisis, he said: “From the start I tried to make this an issue back in April as they were about to implement the EU common asylum policy… I said then it would lead to an exodus of biblical proportions”.
“We all talk about the photograph of that boy dead on the beach, but we should be seeing 3,000 photographs like that… there are 3,000 people who have died… and EU policy is responsible for it.”
“Australia has incurred massive criticism but people have stopped drowning and that’s worth thinking about.”
He said that the Prime Minister David Cameron “gets a tick” from him over the migrant crisis, for not allowing Britain to be dragged into European quotas, but added: “Basically what Cameron has done pretty much excludes any Christians from coming… I just feel that the Christians are being ignored.”
His comments were based on the fact that the hand picked Syrian refugees that the government is set to take over the next five years will largely ignore the religious divide and how Christians are being especially persecuted. He noted that the 1951 definition of a refugee talks about those fearing persecution, not just everyone from a war torn region.
On the numbers, he said that 4,000 refugees a year is “an irrelevant fact that when you consider that 640,000 people settled in Britain last year”.
And he went on to attack the big, corporate institutions that favour Britain’s membership of the EU.
“The city has done well because of its global dimension. Europe is a part of that. I see in these institutions a loathing for Anglo-Saxon capitalism.” He spoke of the “massive legislation that makes the city increasingly uncompetitive,” and noted: “The Goldman Sachses will always say we should remain in the EU… they get to appoint prime ministers!”
Mr Farage also laid out his concerns over the cheap, taxi firm Uber. He said: “it’s pretty doubtful whether the [driver] is properly registered and paying tax. In London it’s the black cab [for me] every time.
He slated Conservative Party eurosceptics, who he said had waited too long, and were continuing to wait before Mr Cameron got on the front foot with his EU renegotiation strategy to keep Britain in the EU, more of which can be read about here.
“TTIP?” he was asked of the EU-USA “free trade” agreement. He replied: “I’ve always thought of myself as a free trader but I look at TTIP and this isn’t just about removing barriers to trade, it’s about regulation, it’s about harmonisation, and about a disputes mechanism that goes above national parliaments”. He made the prediction: “I suspect that TTIP is going to be shelved,” despite the EU’s demands that the legislation is completed by the end of the year.
And he spoke of “[Europe’s] obsession with carbon dioxide” saying that it had led to expensive energy, and bad energy policy: “Our energy is too blooming expensive,” he exclaimed. “Wind energy is the most flawed policy I’ve seen in my lifetime”
The meeting took place at the Renaissance Hotel just moments away from the European Parliament building in Brussels. Questions from the audience included a false assertion that UKIP MEPs did not show up for work, and a long, ranting statement from Tory MEP Charles Tannock about how if Britain left the EU, war would become more likely.
Mr Farage dismissed both claims.