Employers should have the right to discriminate on the basis of nationality - that’s the view of Nigel Farage, who said Britain's race laws that prevent prejudice in the workplace should be scrapped.
The former City trader added that Ukip would not retain laws against discrimination on the grounds of race or colour, because, "We as a party are colour-blind.” He also said race is not a significant issue in modern Britain. Downing Street accused the eurosceptic of being "desperate for attention".
He also described some Muslims in Britain as a "fifth column living within our country, who hate us and want to kill us".
Echoing the BNP mantra "British jobs for British workers," the Ukip kingpin made the outlandish remarks during an interview for the Channel 4 documentary: Things We Won't Say About Race That Are True, scheduled for broadcast next week.
The eurosceptic politician, who is white, said concerns over preventing racial discrimination in employment "would probably have been valid" 40 years ago, told the Channel 4 documentary: "I don't think it is today. If I talked to my children... about the question of race, they wouldn't know what I was talking about.”
On employment law, the Ukip leader said: “Employer[s] should be much freer to make decisions on who she or he employs… I think the situation that we now have, where an employer is not allowed to choose between a British-born person and somebody from Poland, is a ludicrous state of affairs. I would argue that the law does need changing, and that if an employer wishes to choose, or you can use the word 'discriminate' if you want to, but wishes to choose to employ a British-born person, they should be allowed to do so."
On Thursday morning, Farage was defiant, insisting it is "not a white v black thing" and that it was "wholly uncontroversial" to claim that some Muslims want to change British culture and bring in Sharia law.
Asked about the comments on LBC, he said: "We've never before had a migrant group come to Britain who have tried to change our culture, and unfortunately there are a small number in the Muslim community who genuinely want to bring Sharia law to Britain. So, I think that's a wholly uncontroversial comment.
"Second thing I was saying was this: small businesses, there are only five million of them, and they are a massively important part of our economy. They feel very, very pressured by continued legislation and in many cases are actually fearful of taking on staff.
"What I said is this: that if a British employer in small business wants to employ a British person over somebody from Poland they should be able to do that without fear that they contravene discrimination laws. That's all I have said."
Asked about his claims that some Muslims wanted to change Britain, he replied: "I'll give a personal example of a taxi driver that I caught a taxi home from Hertfordshire with 18 months ago. Very bright, well educated, terribly nice fellow, I sat in the front with him. He told me, 'your society in Britain is rotten and it needs changing, we are going to take over and introduce Sharia law'."
He added: "You have got to look at the British-born people, British-born passport holders, who have been going out to fight for Isis."
Too often Farage has turned blind eye to racism by his candidates. Now its clear he would allow racism by employers too. What a nasty party!— Yvette Cooper (@YvetteCooperMP) March 12, 2015
Farage: "Racism is no longer a problem in the UK. Which is something I'm determined to change."— David Schneider (@davidschneider) March 12, 2015
I'm not British Born Mr @Nigel_Farage I am as British as u r. Yr comments r offensive&racist. I wld b frightened 2live in country run by U.— Nadhim Zahawi (@nadhimzahawi) March 12, 2015
There is a virus of racism running through UKIP. You can't root it out if you're incapable of recognising it exists in our country.— Chuka Umunna (@ChukaUmunna) March 12, 2015
A Number 10 spokesman said: "Nigel Farage is wrong and desperate for attention. The laws are there to protect prople from racial discrimination. It's deeply concerning he doesn't understand that."
Labour also shot back accusing Farage of making comments of "breathtaking ignorance." Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said: "This is one of the most shocking things I have ever heard from a mainstream politician and demonstrates breathtaking ignorance."
Khan added: "We have made huge progress on tackling racial inequality and discrimination in this country, partly because of Labour's strong anti-discrimination laws, but things are still far from perfect. When my parents moved to London they frequently saw signs saying 'no blacks, no dogs, no Irish'; what Ukip is suggesting would take us back to those days."
What I said on race law was lauding progress of race relations/equality. UK media should be proud of this instead of trying to do it down.— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) March 12, 2015
Wilful misinterpretation of what I said. I'm talking Britons, whatever their heritage, being discriminated against in favour of EU migrants.— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) March 12, 2015
I said on @BBCr4today that I've made no comments on race. I am the only party leader standing up for British workers, whatever their colour.— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) March 12, 2015
And I would suggest the REAL racists in our society are the ones who hear me say "British" and think "white". Deeply concerning.— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) March 12, 2015
Farage later said in a statement: "My comments to Trevor Phillips were lauding the progress of race relations and equality in this country. Britain's media should be proud of this fact instead of trying to do it down.
"Ukip is the only party that is suggesting that Britain's employers should be free to employ British workers, regardless of creed or colour. It wasn't that long ago that the Labour Party called for 'British jobs for British workers'."