UK Politics

Nigel Farage's spin doctor interrupts live radio interview

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Media captionUKIP communications director Patrick O'Flynn interrupted the LBC interview when Mr Farage was pushed to answer questions on expenses

Nigel Farage's press spokesman stepped in to halt a live radio interview in which the UKIP leader faced tough questioning about views on immigration.

Mr Farage was being quizzed by LBC host James O'Brien when Patrick O'Flynn intervened to say the interview had "massively" overrun.

The UKIP leader - who had been answering a question on his expenses - looked surprised and tried to carry on.

The 20-minute grilling was broadcast on the LBC website.

Mr O'Brien accused Mr Farage of "reverse-ferretting" on a commitment to subject his expenses to an independent audit when Mr O'Flynn, a former Daily Express journalist who is seeking election as MEP in his own right, stepped in.

"We have an agreement about timing," he interjected. "You have massively..."

But Mr Farage signalled he wanted to answer the interviewer's question and carried on, saying his party's MEPs would make a collective decision about the issue and he was "suspicious" of similar pledges by other parties.

Mr O'Brien had already acknowledged that he was running out of time and he wished the interview could have gone on for an hour.

Mr Farage was also pressed on remarks he made earlier this year when he said he felt "uncomfortable" about the fact so little English was spoken on a train journey he took from London to his Kent home.

Neighbour question

Mr O'Brien asked the UKIP leader why he had made the comment given that his wife is German and likely to speak German when talking to her relatives. He replied: "I don't suppose she speaks it on the train."

Mr Farage denied he was "demonising" Romanians by pointing out that many migrants who had come to the UK had been "forced into a life of crime" by the "real poverty" in their own country.

The UKIP leader has argued that Romanian migrants have triggered a crime wave in parts of London.

"The Metropolitan Police have produced their crime statistics and they are eye-watering. I am saying let's gets a grip on it," he said.

"I was asked if a group of Romanian men moved in next door, would you be concerned? And if you lived in London, I think you would be."

Mr O'Brien asked what the difference was between having a Romanian family and a German one as neighbours. "You know what the difference is," Mr Farage replied.

'False targets'

Mr Farage defended his party's stance on immigration and rejected claims that it was racist, arguing that it had growing support among minority ethnic communities.

"Controlling the quantity and quality of people that come into your country is a primary duty of government and we can't do it as members of the EU."

Also on Friday, Labour leader Ed Miliband said he wanted to "bear down" on low-skilled immigration to the EU but said he would not be setting any "false targets" or making "false promises".

He said Labour's attitude to immigration had changed, suggesting the last government had ignored people's concerns about its impact on wages and employment.

While immigration benefited the economy, he said, there needed to be tougher controls, potentially including making migrants wait six months until they could claim jobseeker's allowance and other benefits.