POLITICS
05/03/2015 09:56 GMT | Updated 06/03/2015 11:59 GMT

Nigel Farage Says It's A 'Fact Of Life' That Mothers Earn Less Money

Nigel Farage has claimed it is a "fact of life" that women who take maternity leave end up earning less than men once they return to work.

The Ukip leader told ITV's Loose Women today that while there "big changes" taking place in family life, including more men choosing to stay at home, it was "difficult" to change the current situation.

"If you are a doctor, a lawyer, a researcher and you are a woman, you have a baby, you take six months or a year off, you come back, you are not disadvantaged at all in that job," he said.

"But there are other jobs in which if you take six months off and come back you find yourself actually behind the rest of the pack and earning less money. That is a fact of life.

Labour's shadow business minister Stella Creasy was less than impressed with Farage's comments. And shadow childen and family's minister Alison McGovern tweeted:"Is Farage for real?".

Appearing on ITV's Loose Women, Farage was asked if he had "any guilt" about his beer-drinking, cigarette-smoking image.

He said: "I only spend five or six hours a day in the pub, that's all I do. I can't see what all the fuss is about."

Farage had two sons with his first wife Grainne Hayes but the marriage broke down. He went on to marry German Kirsten Mehr and the couple had two daughters.

Asked when he spent time with his wife and children he said: "At the moment I don't. You cannot conduct any sense of family life and do politics.

"I notice that the other three big leaders are very good at coming on to programmes like this and saying what wonderful family men they are and how they do the school run and when the babies were little they changed all the nappies and did the night feeds.

"Well, maybe that's true, but all I can say is, my life in politics, it's pretty much impossible to do that."

He added that "by nature you've got to be a fairly selfish person" if you want to pursue political ambitions. Asked if he could have been a house husband, Farage said: "I would have been absolutely useless."

Farage triggered a row on the issue of pay in January last year when he suggested disparity in wages was down to female employees making "different choices" for "biological reasons".

"If a woman has a client base and has a child and takes two or three years off work, she is worth far less to the employer when she comes back than when she goes away because her client base cannot be stuck rigidly to herm" he said in a speech to the City.

"I don't believe that in the big banks and brokerage houses and Lloyds of London and everyone else in the City, I do not believe there is any discrimination against women at all. I think that young, able women who are prepared to sacrifice the family life and stick with their careers do as well, if not better, than men."

Farage also told Loose Women today that he expected Ukip to secure a number of MPs in the "double figures" on election day.