Nigel Farage, who once said he felt “awkward” when he heard only foreign languages on a London-bound train, has denied saying anything “ever” that could be interpreted as disliking foreigners.
The ex-Ukip leader was labelled a “hypocrite” by a caller to his nightly LBC radio show for having a Germany wife and living in the UK, but wanting to deny others a similar privilege.
“You’re a complete hypocrite,” said Ben from Charing Cross. The caller later suggested the controversial ‘Breaking Point’ poster unveiled during the EU referendum campaign “incited some kind of xenophobia”.
Farage responded by not addressing the charge of hypocrisy directly, but instead widening the accusation.
Farage:“Hang on, Ben. Am I missing something. Have I said I dislike all foreigners? Is that what you’re trying to say?”
Ben:“Well, more or less.”
Farage:“Well I’m sorry, matey. I think you might have got the wrong end of the stick here.”
Ben:“All the rhetoric that is being bandied around about Brexit, and we don’t want the foreigners in.”
Farage:“I’m sorry Ben, who said that? Who said we don’t want the foreigners in? Were you listening to the Brexit debate?”
When Ben accused Farage of “stirring up a hornets nest”, Farage responded:
“You tell me, Ben, when I have once ever made a comment that was anywhere near what you’ve just alleged?”
At the end of their exchange, Farage made clear:
“I’m sorry to upset you and disappoint you, Ben, but I don’t dislike foreigners. I love Europe, and the world. I just want us to have a sensible, balanced system.”
Farage, who is still an MEP, has received criticism for many comments he has made about migrants, and been accused of employing ‘dogwhistle’ tactics or coded language.
In 2014, he said he felt “awkward” when he could hear no English being spoken while on a train from London to Kent. It followed a speech where he claimed some areas of Britain are being “taken over” by migrants, while others have become “frankly unrecognisable”.
Two years ago, he was accused of “scaremongering” after saying migrants using the NHS for HIV treatment cost £25,000 per year and saying the NHS should be for “British people and families”.
HIV charity the Terrence Higgins Trust said “HIV doesn’t discriminate and politicians shouldn’t either” and Ukip’s only MP, Douglas Carswell, said Farage’s comments about HIV were “wrong on so many levels”.