This is an abridged transcript of Nigel Farage's Brexit interview with Andrew Neil
Reducing the level of immigration has been central to your pitch to voters, can you tell the British public at what level broadly you’d expect net migration to fall if we left the EU?
Up to us. The point about this referendum, too much of this is sounding like a manifesto, a Remain manifesto, a Leave manifesto. The real point about this referendum is who makes the decisions, do we have the ability to control the numbers that come to Britain or not, that’s the first and most important point to make. What do I think would be the right number? Well do you know, from the late 1940s all through the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s we had net migration coming into Britain at 30 or 40,000 people a year. It was a number that was acceptable, it was a number that led actually to us having the best integration of any country inside Europe.
And you’d like to go back to that kind of ballpark? 50,000 a year?
Let’s get back to normality and what I would like to see is this debated in the House of Commons every year, voted on by our MPs who then at elections could be held accountable by the electorate.
Well let’s just look at this chart here to show the scale of the challenge, if that’s what you would want to do because this shows net migration last year. It shows a chunk coming from the EU, 184,000, just a little more, 188,000, from the non-EU so even if we left and you banned all migration from the EU and I know you don’t want to do that but if we did, we would still have almost 200,000 net migration from outside the EU, it’s nowhere near 50,000.
Not with the right government and that’s the point isn’t it? There’s been no resolve, despite the fact that the Prime Minister has won two elections (albeit one in a coalition) but he has won two elections with a pledge to reduce net migration to tens of thousands a year, he’s shown no resolve with non-EU migration and with EU migration he still is not admitting in this referendum the truth that he does not have that ability…
None of this is telling us, given how keen you are on non-EU migration, or at least that’s what you said to ITV, how you get anywhere near 50,000.
Well let me simplify. That used to be a British passport …
I wondered how long it was going to take you to bring that out.
Yes, and it’s worth it isn’t it because what does it say on it? European Union and there are 508 million people entitled to one of those any of whom can come to the country so the first thing we have to do to get to my aim which I agree with you, given where we are, it’s a hell of an ask but …
But also where you are with non-EU immigration which you’ve been bigging up.
Hang on a second, what we have to do first is get back control over the bit over which we have no control at all and one of my concerns is that just a few weeks after this referendum we’ve got Greece going probably for the third bail out, we’ve got the Italian banking system in a very serious crisis so we have no control if the eurozone goes pop on the numbers that come to this country so the first thing you do is to get control of the bit that you can get control of, then you have to have a government with resolve. Look, you talked there about legal figures, what about the boats coming into Dymchurch? It’s only because one of them got into trouble that we’re even talking about it and the government has been warned repeatedly. We’ve not had the right government.
THE COLOGNE SEX ATTACKERS
The Sunday Telegraph reported you predicting Cologne style sex attacks if we stay in the EU …
I said no such thing.
You told the ITV audience you have been misrepresented but let’s just see what you said on LBC radio in January.
LBC CLIP: Those 1000 young men that were outside the train station in Cologne will within three to four years have German passports which means effectively that they can come here. And there is a problem with this.
So you did predict Cologne style sex attacks.
I may have done months ago but I chose …
Well you did, we just heard it.
But I chose in this referendum to try and make it a non-issue. Why? Because there are so many other things for us to talk about however is what I said at LBC wrong? Of course it’s not. Is there a problem here? It is not just Germany, it’s Sweden as well.
So let’s come to this issue that you said they can then come here because you said in a few years they’d be able to come here but that’s not true either is it?
Well in Hungary …
Let’s stick with Germany where most of them have gone.
In normal circumstances naturalisation in Germany takes seven years, maybe eight years but it can of course be much quicker if there is a large number of people involved. We don’t know and it …
Well it never has been, it takes eight years of residence in Germany before you can apply, you need adequate knowledge of German, you need to be able to support yourself and your family financially and most important of all to do with the Cologne sex attackers, you need a clean criminal record.
Ah, the Cologne sex attackers, there have been hardly any convictions at all.
There have been quite a few.
There have been hardly any convictions …
But they couldn’t come here in a couple of years, that’s just not true.
But it won’t be for us to decide whether people in Germany or Sweden or elsewhere get passports that give them full access to Britain, the point is that …
But it’s not a couple of years as you tried to make out.
I said three or four years.
It turns out it’s eight plus.
In Hungary it’s three, in many other countries it’s four, in Germany it’s eight.
BREXIT AND TARIFFS
Let’s move to the economy…. Let’s take the worst case scenario. WTO is the World Trade Organisation, it overviews, it authorises the global trade rules. The WTO’s own analytical survey said that if we traded on that basis our businesses, we would face in this country £9 billion more of tariffs on imports coming into this country, £9 billion in higher costs to the British consumer. That’s about the same of the net saving from the membership if we don’t join, gone in a puff of smoke. Not a penny left for the NHS and all the other things you said you would spend it on.
I’ve given you the worst case scenario however what we could do at the same time …
But deal with that.
What we could do at the same time is take away the 10% tariff on every motor car made in Japan that is sold here, what we could do is take away the 17% tariff on shoes that are manufactured in Vietnam …
You can’t take away individual tariffs under WTO rules, under what’s called the most mutually and favourable standards. You have to treat everybody the same, you couldn’t do that and our exports would face £5bn tariffs in markets, your own Business in Britain says £7bn. Lower profits, jobs lost.
No, I don’t accept that because the worst case … what does the worst case scenario mean for that 12% of our economy? Let’s just get some figures on this, 88% of the British economy does not export goods or services to the EU, all right. Of the 12% that does, what would if this worst case scenario occurred, it would make their products a bit more expensive.
Yes, £9 billion more.
However currency fluctuations every months are bigger even than those tariffs but here’s the point, there is a tariff free zone that extends from Iceland to Turkey, interestingly, so Turkey has a tariff free deal with the European Union …
For goods, not for services, 80% of our economy is services.
Well to be honest with you I worked in the service sector, I saw the single market arrive in 1986 and 30 years on it’s not working.
BREXIT AND MANUFACTURING
At the moment we have to put tariffs on non-EU stuff because that’s the EU rule. Even if others were slapping tariffs on our exports, we didn’t need to, that’s what Patrick Minford has said but look what he then says if we do that. This is Patrick Minford, “Over time if we left the EU it seems likely, on the basis we’ve been talking about, that we would mostly eliminate manufacturing but this shouldn’t scare us.” It scares me Mr Farage doesn’t it scare you?
Yes, it worries me greatly.
But he is your favourite economist.
Hang on, he also said – because I went to his full presentation the other day – that we would have the ability to use whatever social means we needed to help support our industries.
Are you really telling the British people tonight that if we vote to leave the EU, the prospect for manufacturing industry is that it heads over time for elimination and all it can hope for are some subsidies to reduce the pain as we eliminate it? That’s what you’re saying tonight.
Do you know what has happened to manufacturing industry, what has happened to our chemical plants, two dozen of which have closed, what has happened to both our aluminium plants, what is happening to our …?
We still have a highly successful manufacturing sector and now you’re saying we’re going to eliminate it.
But we’ve lost it … No, I’m not saying that. We’ve lost our heavy engineering, we’ve lost much of our heavy manufacturing and why? Because we went down the European Union route of going for wind technology and expensive costs of electricity and we did it … no, hang on, Tony Blair signed us up to the 20-20-20 strategy and we have beggared heavy industry in this country.
FARAGE’S MEAN BRITAIN
Let me ask you one final question, Mr Farage. On Wednesday the Chancellor sitting in that chair, he ended the interview as we are about to now, by claiming the referendum was a choice between what he called your “mean and divisive” vision of Britain and a more confident and open one. Remain want to make you the poster boy for Leave because they think if they do that they’ll win, doesn’t that worry you?
Not in the least. They are part of the Westminster bubble, none of them have ever had a proper job in their lives, none of them go out and meet ordinary people and perhaps in my case occasionally have a pint with them. Let me tell you, my vision is to put this country and the British people first and for us to divorce ourselves from political union and to re-engage with the rest of the world. It is upbeat, it is optimistic and do you know something, I think we’re going to win.
Nigel Farage, thank you for being with us tonight.