UKIP leader slams Brexit chiefs for free movement backtrack - but says nothing about economy or racism
Nigel Farage today slammed back-tracking Leave campaigners on EU free movement, saying any retreat on immigration would be a betrayal of Brexit voters.
The UKIP leader, writing in the Times, took issue with Tory MEP Daniel Hannan’s support for keeping ‘free movement of labour’ from the EU, with Farage claiming:
‘it was immigration that was the number one deciding factor of this referendum.’
He said the public voted ‘for the end of free movement’, and failure to achieve this would ‘destroy the credibility not only of those who sought to ignore the wishes of the people but would further undermine the credibility of our democracy’.
Farage said ‘retain[ing] open borders even just for workers would be totally unacceptable and akin to Nick Clegg’s infamous tuition fees U-turn’. He adds:
‘Many would question why they bothered turning out to vote in this referendum for the end of free movement only for a Conservative government to ignore their wishes – something I believe would have massive electoral ramifications.’
Farage made no mention of whether free movement could be the price of continued access to the single market, the impact on the economy of stopping free movement of labour, or anything about Brits living in Europe or Europeans living in Britain.
He did say Brits should be trained and ‘in some cases’ paid more to do jobs otherwise filled by EU workers. He also said net annual migration of 30,000 to 50,000 people is ‘an ambitious and sensible level to aim for’.
But the UKIP leader said nothing about alarming reports of racist abuse across the country since Thursday’s result.
When interviewed before the referendum, Farage told the BBC:
‘It’s legitimate to say that if people feel they’ve lost control completely, and we have lost control of our borders completely as members of the EU, and if people feel voting doesn’t change anything, then violence is the next step.’
Farage, who has taken credit for immigration’s role in the Leave campaign, is positioning himself to the Right of the chief Leavers on the issue post-Brexit.
Their flip-flopping could hand far-Right groups like UKIP, Britain First and the BNP an opportunity to gain support, as Observer columnist Nick Cohen argued yesterday.
Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.