Nigel Farage would “of course” accept worker shortages if it meant lower migration, the Eurosceptic campaigner has told Sky News – and wouldn’t rule out another attempt to become an MP.
Mr Farage was speaking to Beth Rigby Interviews… following the release of the latest net migration figures.
These showed the population grew by 606,000 due to people arriving in the UK in the year to December 2022.
This is clearly in opposition to what Mr Farage said would happen in the event of the UK leaving the European Union.
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He was asked if he would have accepted “worker shortages” to reduce net migration to 50,000 as he campaigned for in the 2019 election.
Mr Farage said: “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 people getting access to the National Health Service, then? Yes, of course.”
He added that “before 2004 when this really kicked off, right, cabbages were not rotting in the fields of Lincolnshire”.
Mr Farage said: “Elderly people were not being left alone in old people’s homes – we managed to do all of this and we’ve now become addicted to cheap unskilled, foreign, imported labour.
“We have to reverse that process.”
Farage ‘hand on heart’ meant Brexit promises
A report from the National Farmers Union last year suggested a shortage of workers led to £22m of fruit and vegetables being lost in the first half of 2022.
Mr Farage said – had he been in power – he would have reduced net migration down to around 30,000 – around 5% of what it is now.
Last year, some 45,755 people alone arrived in the UK in small boats across the Channel.
He also denied “hand on heart” that he was dishonest about the promises he made over Brexit.
Asked what he would specifically target to reduce net migration, Mr Farage took aim at the salary requirement for a skilled worker visa – which he said was set at “minimum wage”.
According to the government website, people need to be paid “at least £26,200 per year or £10.75 per hour” to qualify for such a way into the UK – although it would need to be more if the average earning for your sector is higher.
The minimum wage is £10.42 for those aged 23 and over, and falls to £10.18 for 21 and 22-year-olds, and again to £7.49 for 18 to 20-year-olds.
Mr Farage also said he wouldn’t have allowed students to bring in dependents with them on educational visas – something the Conservative government is now changing.
He claimed the reason for such a discrepancy between his campaigning and the current situation was that he “wasn’t in charge” – and took aim at the Conservative Party all the way from the result of the Brexit referendum.
Mr Farage said that the day after the vote to leave the “very people I’d fought against for 25 years” were still in power.
He claimed he “got rid of [Theresa] May” and that without him Boris Johnson “wouldn’t have even been prime minister”.
Tory promises in 2019 were ‘a big lie’
Mr Farage, who is now president of the Reform Party, was a figurehead for the Brexit Party – its predecessor – in 2019, which swept the board to become the largest UK party in the European elections that year.
When it came to the 2019 general election, the party did not win any seats, but did stand aside in areas the Conservatives already held to avoid splitting the Brexit-supporting vote there.
But the Brexit campaigner now thinks the 2019 manifesto put to the country by Boris Johnson’s Conservatives was a “big lie” – a phrase Donald Trump uses to refer to the result of the last US general election, which he lost.
“I stood aside in that 2019 general election, helping them to get that big majority, because I believed that perhaps finally they understood what Brexit was about,” Mr Farage told Beth Rigby.
“And we’ve now, four years down the road, got a Remainer, globalist Conservative Party who have betrayed that trust.”
Globalist is again a term utilised by Trump, who Mr Farage has appeared alongside numerous times and also interviewed.
Rishi Sunak, the current prime minister, has long supported Brexit.
Mr Johnson was a lead figure in the Brexit campaign, and while Liz Truss supported Remain in the 2016 vote, she has since campaigned to be tough on the EU.
Mr Farage hinted that he may be considering running for parliament again – having never successfully contested a Westminster seat.
A change to the electoral system would make a run more likely, he added.
The former UKIP leader predicted “another insurgency” in UK politics – “whether it’ll be Reform, whether it’ll be me, whether we get a new Nick Griffin [the former leader of the far-right British National Party]”.
Mr Farage said: “I think if I stood again, it would be a much more revolutionary agenda than just Brexit.”
You can watch Beth Rigby Interviews in full with Nigel Farage on Sky News at 9pm tonight