Nigel Farage said on Wednesday that he has toned down his rhetoric and no longer makes “negative arguments” about immigration, despite recent remarks about HIV patients visiting Britain to use the NHS. During a BBC interview, the Ukip leader said he had to "wake people up" to the issue in previous years, and said “things to get noticed," but the party has since “evolved.”
Farage used the TV appearance to dismiss accusations that Ukip is racist following the party's manifesto launch, which saw an angry reaction from activists when journalists asked about the scarcity of black faces in the policy book.
Nigel Farage of the UK Independence Party speaks from a podium at the launch of his party's election manifesto in Thurrock, England, Wednesday, April 15, 2015
The Ukip boss said: "To wake people up - to wake people up to the truth of what's going on you sometimes have to say things in a way to get noticed, of that there's no question. However, however, political parties evolve and change. And if you look at the way Ukip is fighting this general election, everything through our manifesto to all the speeches I've given all over the country, what I'm saying is this: we no longer need to make the negative arguments about the effect that immigration has had on primary school places, on healthcare provision, on wage compression.
He continued: "The argument we are now making is that we're the one party that, firstly, offers a solution, which is to take back control of our borders, and secondly, has a positive and an ethical vision of how immigration should be managed by having an Australian-style points system."
Farage, who is running to become MP for Thanet South on May 7, defended his use of the phrase "fifth column", insisting he was referring to a "mercifully small percentage of the Muslim religion". He said: "The fifth column are those within that wish to fight us. Those that are prepared to act upon it would be a fifth column. And as we know -- there's a sideline, 700, maybe a thousand British people have gone to fight in Syria. "
He said he did not "hate" multiculturalism but warned "real mistakes" had been made with "state sponsored multiculturalism and division within society", adding that he had a "slight preference" for migrants to come from Commonwealth countries such as India or Australia, rather than eastern Europe.
"I do think, naturally that people from India and Australia are in some ways more likely to speak English, understand common law and have a connection with this country than some people that come perhaps from countries that haven't fully recovered from being behind the Iron Curtain," said Farage.
Below are pictures of the Ukip chief campaigning door-to-door in Kent: