Nigel Farage: 'Britain in grip of immigration crisis'

Nigel Farage addresses supporters in Margate during the Say No To The EU tour Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The UKIP leader claims Europe's asylum policy has played into the hands of people traffickers

Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party and South East MEP, says Britain is "in the grip of a massive immigration crisis".

He claims the majority of migrants in Calais ere economic migrants and Europe's policy on asylum has played into the hands of human traffickers.

Just before the general election, Mr Farage took part in a debate on the migration crisis where he warned that the EU's policies would lead to people risking their lives to get to Europe.

He now says that prediction has come true.

Mr Farage told me he said back in May that: "The European common asylum policy sets the boundaries so wide that it even includes poverty. You are making it clear that anyone who comes to Europe can stay, you are playing into the hands of the criminal traffickers, you will cause people to drown in the Mediterranean. "

"I make no apology for having said that - it's proved to be true," he added.

The UK has opted against taking part in the relocation scheme and has its own plan to resettle migrants directly from Syrian refugee camps.

'Responsible administration'

Mr Farage also downplayed the problems at Thanet District Council. The authority is the only one in the country led by UKIP and last week four councillors resigned from the party.

He said the four, who will remain on the council as independents, resigned because of a difference of opinion over Manston Airport.

"We've got four people who think that we should proceed to a compulsory purchase order before the necessary safety conditions are in place. I don't doubt their sincerity in thinking that - but they're wrong.

"Surely the job of the first UKIP-led administration in Britain is to make sure we use local taxpayers' money responsibly."

He went on to say he had every confidence in the council's leader Chris Wells.

It was a bullish interview ahead of UKIP's annual conference which starts in Doncaster tomorrow.

General election disappointment

Last year the hall was packed - with standing room only for Nigel Farage's speech. This year's conference promises to be a different affair, with ticket prices having been cut to encourage more delegates to attend.

Also in 2014, Nigel Farage pulled off a major coup when the Rochester and Strood Conservative MP Mark Reckless announced he was defecting from the Tories to join UKIP.

He won the seat back for the party in a by-election in November, only to lose it to the Conservatives again at May's general election.

The conference will also be UKIP's first big gathering since the disappointment of the general election, when hopes that they would make a major breakthrough in Westminster were dashed.

Mr Farage will have to try to rally the troops and prove that UKIP is still a credible political force ahead of the referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union in 2017.

The UKIP conference is being held in Doncaster between 24 and 26 September.

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