On the Politics Show, Sunday 14 October 2005, Jon Sopel interviewed Nigel Farage, Leader of the UK Independence Party.
JON SOPEL: Well Nigel Farage is the leader of the UK Independence Party, and he joins us now. Mr Farage, welcome, in a shirt, even more shocking pink than my own. The Lisbon Summit, the amending treaty, is going to be signed isn't it.
NIGEL FARAGE: Yes, it is. And you know, there's no question that Gordon Brown wants to sign it and he seems to agree with it. There are going to be these spurious arguments made on Thursday and Friday and somehow we've defended the red lines, but the real issue is, that this government was elected on a promise, to give us a referendum on the EU Constitution, and what is going to be looked at in Lisbon on Thursday or Friday, is 96% the same, as that Constitution.
JON SOPEL: I've got to give you this famous quote from the MEP, Richard Corbet, where he says, that a human being and a mouse have 90% of the same DNA. The 10% where it's different though, is quite important that differentiates us from a mouse and a human.
NIGEL FARAGE: Well, what they've done is they've got rid of the word, 'constitution', for fear that it will offend people. They've got rid of the flag and the anthem, they're not written in to this new document, but they exist anyway. So, you know, there really is no difference at all, and there are twelve heads of state from across Europe, who've said, we've maintained the substance, we've just changed the packaging. And Gordon Brown, in my opinion, when he comes back next Friday night, simply isn't going to get away with it.
JON SOPEL: Right, so he's going to say, I've defended the red lines, and there's not going to be a referendum, that's the end of it isn't it.
NIGEL FARAGE: Well, he may say that but the fact is, his red lines are unenforceable, because what this treaty does, it turns the EU in to a legal entity in its own right, and it gives the European Court of Justice the ability, to impinge upon those areas.
JON SOPEL: I just wonder how well you think he'll be able to resist pressure from you, but probably more importantly, from maybe some of the national press, about the need for... (overlaps)
NIGEL FARAGE: Well, what about his own backbenchers - they're the ones that are really going to matter. You know a couple of weeks ago Labour was showing eleven points ahead in the polls, it isn't showing that today. You had a piece earlier on about Corby, a key marginal seat, well if the issue that gives those backbenchers the feeling that they can hold their seats, he's giving a referendum on this question, then I think the pressure from his own side is going to be enormous.
JON SOPEL: And here you are, trying to protect the British way of doing business. We don't have government by referendum in this country.
NIGEL FARAGE: Well we didn't used to have it but we did have it on this question. We did in 1975, have a national referendum, on whether we should stay inside a common market.
JON SOPEL: Maastrict, Nice, single European... (overlaps)
NIGEL FARAGE: I know, and it's been a mistake. You know, had the Conservative Party had a referendum on Maastricht, I don't think they'd have been through the terrible times since they've been through and I think that Gordon Brown will not be able to resist his own backbenchers.
JON SOPEL: Do you have any sense though that the British public are clamoring and reading this document and saying, we must have a referendum on this.
NIGEL FARAGE: Well, we haven't even signed the document yet. Run forward six months, in between the period when it's officially signed and it's to be ratified within the House of Commons, I think this will be a real issue.
JON SOPEL: Okay, I want you to give me a guess on two things. One, do you think there will be a referendum, and two, what would the question be.
NIGEL FARAGE: There will be a referendum, I've no doubt about that.
JON SOPEL: No doubt.
NIGEL FARAGE: I've no doubt about it. I think the pressure is so strong, you know, right across the spectrum, and all the opinion polls show, 80% of people plus, want a referendum on this. When they see the details of what's about to be given away, in terms of Justice and Home Affairs, that feeling will be even stronger.
JON SOPEL: And the question.
NIGEL FARAGE: And the question I suspect, won't be on the treaty, cos he knows he'd lose a referendum on that. My guess is the question will be, whether we stay in or get out of the European Union because that, from a government perspective is more winnable. It also, for his point of view, has the beauty of splitting the Tory party horribly.
JON SOPEL: Nigel Farage, thank you very much indeed for being with us.
END OF INTERVIEW WITH NIGEL FARAGE
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