Former conservative politician Nigel Farage has claimed that post-Brexit net immigration into the U.K. would have fallen below 50,000 a year if he had been in charge, and refused to rule out a return to frontline politics to take on what he described as a “dishonest, establishment, globalist” governing Conservative party that has failed Brexit voters.
The former Brexit Party and UKIP leader spoke to Sky News on Thursday, hours after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released the latest immigration figures, which showed net migration had spiraled to 606,000 in the last calendar year — the highest figure ever recorded despite Britain leaving the European Union and supposedly “taking back control” of its borders.
He told interviewer Beth Rigby that the Conservative party had never been serious about implementing the socially conservative pledges its multiple leaders had made during successive general elections, and took aim at former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who instead of enacting a new immigration policy to reduce the numbers which Brexit voters had expected, had relaxed wage thresholds and work visa requirements and overseen the largest explosion of mass immigration into Britain ever recorded.
"If they put me in charge of it, I would have got it down to 50,000 a year, no question about it."@Nigel_Farage insists that he would have met his 2016 pledge to cut net migration down in the UK.#Rigby https://t.co/PAiZ4D1jU3— Sky News (@SkyNews) May 25, 2023
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“A lot of this is down to a breach of trust between what has been promised at elections and what has been delivered,” Farage told viewers.
Asked whether he would advocate reducing net migration even if it meant labor shortages, Farage was unequivocal.
“If that meant there was a realistic chance of people finding somewhere to live, a school for their kids to go to that was local, and people getting access to the NHS, then yes, of course!
“Before 2004, when this really kicked off, cabbages were not rotting in the fields of Lincolnshire. Elderly people were not being left alone in old people’s homes,” the conservative broadcaster stated.
“We’ve now become addicted to cheap, unskilled, foreign imported labor,” Farage added, insisting it was high time this policy of mass immigration was reversed.
Put to him that high levels of immigration have led to economic growth, Farage remained defiant, telling Rigby: “I’ve been hearing this for a quarter of a century! If increasing the British population by 8 million people has added a few decimal points here and there to GDP, so blimmin’ what?
“There is something far more important than the size of our GDP. There is something called community, called quality of life in this country. These are things that nobody in Westminster even talks about,” he added.
The former Brexit Party and UKIP leader was continuously hassled by Rigby throughout the 15-minute interview, who appeared desperate for Farage to admit responsibility for the failure of Brexit, despite the fact he has never been in a position of power and had no authority to implement policies he advocated during the referendum campaign.
If they had put me in charge of (tackling migration), we’d have got to 50,000 a year, but they didn’t,” Farage replied stoically.
“There is nobody more disappointed than me at what this government has done. I would have loved to have been in a position of responsibility, but I wasn’t,” he added.
Farage accused the governing Conservative party of hating the Brexit result and doing all it can to water down its effect. “We’ve had years of hesitancy, and even when they seem to finally get the message, they didn’t get it. They have never, ever as a party, believed in this.
“I look at that 2019 Tory manifesto, the way it was put to the people, and frankly it was a big lie,” he added.
Analyzing the current political landscape in Britain, Farage claimed “the gap between Westminster and where people are is even bigger than it was 10 years ago” and warned that there will soon be “another insurgency in British politics.
“Whether it will be Reform, whether it will be me, whether we get a new Nick Griffin (former leader of the far-right British National Party). Maybe we get genuinely the far-right into British politics, (but) something has got to change.”
Asked by Rigby whether he will ever return to frontline politics, Farage remained coy.
“I don’t know. I haven’t ruled it out, I haven’t ruled it in. If I could see that by doing it there was a really clear achievable goal, then I might well. I haven’t worked that out yet. If we had an electoral system that was representative in some way, then it would be much easier.
“I think if I stood again, it would be a much more revolutionary agenda than just Brexit. It would be fundamental change to the voting system,” he added.
Farage was an eternal thorn in the side of the U.K. Conservative party throughout his career in frontline politics. As UKIP leader during the 2015 general election, his party managed to amass 3.9 million votes — 12.6 percent of the vote share — however, due to the first-past-the-post electoral system in Britain the party won just one parliamentary seat out of 650 available.
The threat of a genuine right-wing party and rising Euroskepticism, however, led Prime Minister David Cameron to promise a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union, which ultimately led to the vote for Brexit.
After the vote, Farage went on to found the pop-up Brexit Party ahead of the final European parliamentary elections in Britain and stormed to victory as the largest U.K. party in Brussels.
He later retired from frontline politics and became a broadcaster for the newly launched GB News channel in 2021.