Sophy Ridge on Sunday Interview with Nigel Farage Brexit Party Leader


SOPHY RIDGE: Now he said he’d gone into semi-retirement from politics but Nigel Farage is back leading a brand new party and he joins us now. Thanks very much for being on the programme. It feels right to start with those local party elections, of course the Brexit Party wasn’t standing but it seems like the conclusion drawn by both Labour and the Conservatives, is that the public want them to do a deal. What do you think would be the consequences of that?

NIGEL FARAGE: I don’t agree with that, what the public want is to leave the European Union. We were promised we would leave on the 29th March, 500 MPs voted for it, the Prime Minister told us over a hundred times we’d be leaving on that date. The public don’t want a deal and certainly not the deal that Mrs May is talking about this morning, you know, permanent customs union, alignment with single market rules. The public want to leave and for us to get on with the rest of our lives.

SR: What do you think the consequences would be if Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn did push forward some kind of customs union?

NIGEL FARAGE: Oh I think if they pushed forward with this, it would be seen as a coalition of politicians against the people and I think millions of people would give up on both Labour and the Conservatives, I really do.

SR: So it could be almost like a re-anointment of …

NIGEL FARAGE: This would be the final betrayal, frankly if May signs up for this I can’t see the point of the Conservative party even existing. What’s it for?

SR: You are using some quite loaded language here, the final betrayal, and you are also talking about what the public want. The problem with this, isn’t it, is that people want different things. There are clearly some people who support your party who would like us to leave with no deal but there are a lot of people who would like to see a deal or perhaps even to remain in the EU.

NIGEL FARAGE: Well if you look at the polling, if you look at the polling, in the last two months there has been a remarkable shift in polling in this country. Leaving on WTO terms with no deal is now the most popular option by far.

SR: But it’s not the majority is it?

NIGEL FARAGE: If you offered people the choice, should we stay and have a second referendum or leave on WTO terms, WTO terms has a majority in every single region of England apart from London …

SR: But they are not the only choices are they?

NIGEL FARAGE: Well they are. Either we stay or we leave, that’s really what it’s all about and I honestly think that if May and Corbyn put together a deal where we leave but we’re stuck inside all the European Union structures, then I think the realignment of British politics will happen even more quickly. I genuinely believe that SW1, the Westminster bubble, not just the politicians but much of the commentariat too, are underestimating the desire for change out there in this country.

SR: Let’s look at some of the polling shall we? You of course didn’t stand as you said, in the local elections, but I have to say the Brexit Party is looking like it is going to do extremely well in the European Elections. This is the latest polling from YouGov, you are up there on 30%, what are you expecting to happen?

NIGEL FARAGE: Well I think that we clearly have done very, very well as a very new party, we’ve done well with the UKIP vote – that’s almost disappeared, we’ve done well with the Conservative vote. I think the significance of what you saw on Thursday was that …

SR: Go on, what would be a good night in the European Elections, I want to pin you down.

NIGEL FARAGE: Let me just finish. The significance of Thursday night is you saw the first cracks in the Labour vote. The Labour parliamentary party are very, very remain, lots of them pushing for a second referendum and to remain but there were five million voters out there, Labour voters who voted leave, particularly in the Midlands, the North and South Wales and I’d love between now and polling day to have a debate with Jeremy Corbyn about this because people are very confused as to what Labour is standing for.

SR: Is that a challenge?

NIGEL FARAGE: Well if you want it is a challenge, absolutely. I think if we can dig in, if we can dig in to the Labour vote then we can surprise even ourselves how well we do on May 23rd.

SR: That polling was not looking very good for UKIP was it, as you mentioned, down on 4%. When you see that do you feel sad or do you actually feel secretly a bit please?

NIGEL FARAGE: 26 years of my life I was with UKIP, I was the leader, the Chairman, the national organiser and for me leaving UKIP was a difficult thing to do but now frankly it’s past its sell-by date, it serves no purpose, it’s done, it’s gone.

SR: Tommy Robinson is an advisor to UKIP, one of its MEP candidates used the N word and other offensive language, I mean how would you define racism?

NIGEL FARAGE: Oh well, in the case of that particular candidate, it is just outright abuse, offensive abuse and there’s no doubt they have gone in that direction. Frankly we won’t even be discussing them after this election.

SR: Is UKIP a racist party?

NIGEL FARAGE: I think that it’s attracted certain individuals that I would never have allowed to join UKIP.

SR: Okay, well now let’s talk about the Brexit Party shall we? Who’s funding you?

NIGEL FARAGE: Amazing, so just yesterday, we had 85,000 yesterday, registered supporters, all paying £25. Work it out, we’ve raised getting on for £2 million through individual people joining through our website and I can’t think that any other party in the UK has ever raised money like that.

SR: You have said in an interview previously that you have received one big donation, who’s that from?

NIGEL FARAGE: Oh yes, I’m really going to tell you his name aren’t I?

SR: Well why not?

NIGEL FARAGE: Because then you would all hound him.

SR: This is a transparent party isn’t it?

NIGEL FARAGE: Yes and we’ll be declaring it at the end of July.

SR: So why don’t you just tell me then?

NIGEL FARAGE: I don’t see why I … I don’t see why one individual … I’ll tell you what, if everybody else will, that’s fine but you know what will happen, if I tell you the name of this person you will hound him, all of you, you’ll be outside his house for the next three weeks so no. Anyway, it’s irrelevant, it’s a small donation, it’s a small donation of £100,000. We’ve raised, I repeat, nearly £2 million in £25 from individual …

SR: Doesn’t it deserve some scrutiny?

NIGEL FARAGE: And you’ll get it all in good time. Who’s funding Change UK?

SR: Well I’ll be asking them.

NIGEL FARAGE: There you are.

SR: There you go. I wanted to ask you about Claire Fox as well, one of your candidates, the top of your list in the north-west. Now of course there has been some media attention on the fact that she has disavowed some of these comments that she made in 1993 defending the IRA …

NIGEL FARAGE: Well this is a classic stitch-up smear story. Number one, she made no comments herself in 1993 but she was a member of a left-wing organisation who were Irish Republicans, nothing unusual in that.

SR: And what they said, the Revolutionary Communist Party of which she was a member, they said we defend the right of the Irish people to take whatever measures are necessary in their struggle for freedom. I mean that was made after Warrington …

NIGEL FARAGE: Let’s be very clear, shall we? Claire Fox says there were dreadful things that happened before the peace agreement which she hates the fact that they occurred. She supports the Good Friday Agreement and does not want politics to be pursued by violent means. The irony of her being attacked when Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell were personal friends of Sinn Fein IRA, close personal friends, attended Palestinian martyr ceremonies commemorating people who tortured and murdered Israeli athletes. Frankly Claire Fox … frankly this is an irrelevant conversation.

SR: Jeremy Corbyn has said he has spoken to all sides in the debate, I have also asked Jeremy Corbyn about his relationship with the IRA in previous interviews so I think it is fair to do the same.

NIGEL FARAGE: Well it’s fair to say that he knew Adams and McGuinness very, very well, absolutely.

SR: Now I also want to ask you about some comments that you yourself made in an interview as well. This is at the Lockhaven University in the United States and you talked about immigration, integration and you said this: “I could take you to a town called Oldham in the north of England where literally on one side of the street everybody is white and literally on the other side of the street everybody is black, there is no assimilation.”

NIGEL FARAGE: Well yes, yes, sadly true. I was first put onto this by Charles Wheeler, the late respected journalist. Tony Blair commissioned him to do a report as to what had happened in Oldham, why there had been riots and this is pretty much what he told me …

SR: But what I don’t understand …

NIGEL FARAGE: … and then, and then in 2012 Oldham council themselves, having looked at the 2011 census said we have a massive problem here of division. I can even go to the Guardian’s Northern correspondent, Helen Pidd, and if you look at it you’ve got one ward in Oldham which is 97% white and literally adjoining it, the next ward is 66% black. There is a massive …

SR: 66% black?


SR: Because if you look at the census …

NIGEL FARAGE: However, however, however if you look at some streets, some streets are well over 90%.

SR: Because in the census only 1.2% of the population is black.

NIGEL FARAGE: Have you been to Oldham?

SR: I have, yes.

NIGEL FARAGE: Well I’ll tell you what, let’s go this week shall we and let’s …

SR: I will go to Oldham.

NIGEL FARAGE: … and I will show you, I will show you there is complete segregation in Oldham. If you are arguing for segregation that’s fine, I’m arguing for integration and I think there is a real problem there.

SR: Can I just … I am not talking necessarily about integration because there is a complex debate on that, what I’m talking about is the specifics and facts because 1.2% of the population in Oldham is black so I just want to pin you down and …

NIGEL FARAGE: Shall we try this again? In one of the wards in Oldham it is 97% white and the adjoining ward is 66% black. You can believe me or disbelieve me but they are the facts. I am making an argument here for integration, what’s wrong with that?

SR: Okay. What is the Brexit Party’s policy on immigration?

NIGEL FARAGE: We want sensible immigration where we don’t discriminate against people that come from India, Australia and the rest of the world.

SR: Okay, now just finally, who do you think should be the next Conservative party leader?

NIGEL FARAGE: I’m not sure that debate is really relevant. If you look at Boris or Dominic Raab, well both of them voted for Theresa May’s treaty in the final analysis so I’m not sure either of them would really deliver a proper Brexit. I think there’s …

SR: Steve Baker …

NIGEL FARAGE: I think there’s a different conversation coming here. I think maybe the Conservative party as it is isn’t really fit for purpose. Maybe we are thinking now about a complete realignment of British politics, the two party system does not work. They serve no one but themselves and I believe if ever there was a moment when that two party structure would break down and be replaced by something new, it’s now and that’s what we in the Brexit party are going to try and do, ambitious I agree.

SR: Okay, Nigel Farage, thank you for being on the programme.