On the Politics Show, Sunday 19 October 2008 , Jon Sopel interviewed Nigel Farage, Leader of UKIP
JON SOPEL: I'm joined now by Nigel Farage, the Leader of the UK Independence Party, thank you very much for being with us. Hasn't the EU actually called off something of an incredible job. Twenty seven countries coming to an agreed position, over what to do about this financial crisis, all the stronger for it.
NIGEL FARAGE: Not at all, no. The original plan of Sarkozy's over two weeks ago, was that the EU would act as one. We would all throw the money in to a big central pot and the EU would manage the rescue of the banks. And of course what happened, the Irish said no, we don't want that, we'll do our own thing. Even the Germans said no, we'll do our own thing. So what you've seen in fact is people acting in their own national interest. And what happened last week was an agreement between sovereign states. So I think that Mr Sarkozy, somehow claiming that this is a great victory for the European model, is completely, utterly wrong.
JON SOPEL: But you know, okay, yes, there have been odd stresses and strains where the Irish have
NIGEL FARAGE: A bit more than that
JON SOPEL: ? guaranteed all bank deposits. But what you come up with at the end of it is an agreed plan that does seem
NIGEL FARAGE: Good, great, I'm happy. I don't just want European countries to do that, I'd like to see globally there would be agreement on how we do these things and there is a difference.
JON SOPEL: But easier because we're part of the EU.
NIGEL FARAGE: There is a difference between a government acting in its own interest and giving away the ability to make that decision to somebody else and what Mr Sarkozy now wants, he now wants the Lisbon Treaty ratified, he wants a treasury department set up in Frankfurt, so that in future the British government will not be able to act on things like this.
JON SOPEL: So, better to be plucky Iceland on the outside.
NIGEL FARAGE: Well you know, the Icelandics have had a complete disaster but thank goodness, in Britain's case, we've not been part of the Euro, we've had a bit more freedom of action, but maybe not as much as one thinks. I mean, just an example, we have put a five year freeze on dividend payments on ordinary bank shares, as a result of the bail out. The Swiss the other day, bailed out UBS. In their case there's no five year freeze on dividends. This is because the European Union has told us how we should now manage our banks, whereas the Swiss, being outside the EU, can act in their own interest.
JON SOPEL: Hang on, wasn't the dividends a matter agreed by the Treasury in negotiations with the Financial Services Authority, as their measure.
NIGEL FARAGE: We thought so. But now we've found that in fact no, they were on the telephone to the European Commission, receiving instructions.
JON SOPEL: But you were the sort of person who'd come on this programme in the past and say, look at plucky Iceland: strong, independent country, able to govern its own affairs and you know, outside the protection of the EU
NIGEL FARAGE: Well, I'm sorry, but the EU hasn't actually protected anybody during this recent collapse. In fact you know, the EU, through all the financial services legislation that the EU has put upon us over the course of the last ten years, not a single investor has been protected.
JON SOPEL: What do say to what Phil Woolas has been saying about the need for tougher action on immigration? Do you buy that?
NIGEL FARAGE: Well I mean, I've been selling the idea of a points-based system for many, many years, so it's refreshing to see a Labour Minister talking what sounds like good common sense. The difficulty is, it's all unenforceable. There isn't much point really in trying to control numbers that come in to the country from outside the EU whilst at the same time you're saying to hundreds of millions of people, as many of you as want can come in to Britain. So, he can't cap the numbers of people coming in to this country all the while we're part of an EU.
JON SOPEL: But that works both ways doesn't it. I mean you've said yourself, going off to work in Brussels.
NIGEL FARAGE: Well I don't think that's a very good example. I mean I'd rather not be there.
JON SOPEL: Okay.
NIGEL FARAGE: The point is, we're a rich country. Romania and Bulgaria are poor countries. We've got a much better social services system. We have been a magnet since 2004 for huge numbers of people and there's nothing to say, really, that that's going to stop.
JON SOPEL: And when there's an economic downturn, those people will melt away.
NIGEL FARAGE: I very much doubt it. I mean
JON SOPEL: Isn't the evidence of that already happening.
NIGEL FARAGE: No, the economic downturn in some Euro Zone countries could be very much worse than what we're going through. The point about this is, we haven't got any control over it whatsoever. And even Woolas' proposals, for what we should do with the non EU world, are about to be overtaken because one of Sarkozy's big plans is that in December, we should have a common immigration policy for the whole the European Union.
JON SOPEL: Now we saw Peter Mandelson on the television earlier on this morning, our former European Union Commissioner, we've got a new one going out there - Baroness Ashton, who was Leader of Lords and I know you're part of the sort of panel vetting tomorrow. You don't think she's up to the job: why?
NIGEL FARAGE: Well, here we are, we've been through this massive credit crunch. We've got a contraction in global trade and the real, genuine threat of protectionism coming back, Baroness Ashton, whatever she's done in her life, she's never worked in the private sector. She's no experience of trading business and at this crucial time, given that the job is the most important trade job in the world, now this not the time for a novice.
JON SOPEL: In a word, can you block her.
NIGEL FARAGE: The parliament can and I think there is a chance that we will.
JON SOPEL: And what happens then?
NIGEL FARAGE: Well, I've put a resolution down to say that I'm not saying she shouldn't be a commissioner at all, I mean given the fact that she managed to get the Lisbon Treaty through the House of Lords without a referendum, she's obviously got some political skills. But she should not be the Trade Commissioner, this needs to be a big hitter.
JON SOPEL: Okay. Nigel Farage, thanks very much for being with us here on the Politics Show.
END OF INTERVIEW WITH NIGEL FARAGE
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The Politics Show Sunday 19 October 2008 at 12:00 BST on BBC One.
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