After making a dramatic rise in British politics with an anti-immigration and anti-European Union posture, the UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage surprised many when he said on television on Wednesday that he preferred Indians to immigrants from East European countries.
Speaking on BBC Newsnight, Farage, whose party made major gains during the European elections and in UK byelections in 2014, said that he preferred Indians and Australians to migrate to Britain instead of people from east European countries.
UKIP is considered one of the ‘insurgent’ parties that are expected to cut into the support base of the two major parties (Conservative, Labour), and assume a position of some influence in the post-poll talks on government formation.
Farage said: “I have to confess I do have a slight preference. I do think, naturally, that people from India and Australia are in some ways more likely to speak English, understand common law and have a connection with this country than some people that come perhaps from countries that haven’t fully recovered from being behind the iron curtain.”
There was also some surprise when Farage released his party manifesto last week. Seeking to focus more on the ‘Anglosphere’ than on the European Union, the manifesto said: “Britain is not merely a European country, but part of a global community, the Anglosphere”.
“Beyond the EU and even the Commonwealth are a network of nations that share not merely our language but our common law, democratic traditions and global trading interests. From India to the United States, New Zealand to the Caribbean, UKIP would want to foster closer ties with the Anglosphere”. Farage said.
Farage admitted that he often spoke against immigration in the past to ‘get noticed’ and ‘wake people up’ to the issue, but went on to declare his preference for Indians and Australians even though he previously said that his party would not discriminate against new arrivals by nationality.