On the Politics Show, Sunday 17 May 2009, Jon Sopel interviewed Nigel Farage, MP, leader UKIP.
Nigel Farage, MP, leader UKIP
JON SOPEL: Nigel Farage joins us now from Newcastle. Mr Farage, thank you for being with us. Welcome.
NIGEL FARAGE: Thank you.
JON SOPEL: The polls suggest you could do pretty well out of the public anger at the three main parties.
NIGEL FARAGE: Yeah, people are angry at the three main parties and quite right too. They're angry about the expenses, they're angry about the fact that we have a professional career political class, who appear to care more about themselves than they do about their constituents, and they do about the country but they're also angry about the issues that UKIP's campaigning on in this election.
They're angry about the fact that we pay forty million pounds a day to the European Union. They're angry about the fact that one thousand extra people settle in this country every day, and they're angry about the fact that 75% of our laws are now made by the institutions in Brussels and that we've not been given a say.
JON SOPEL: Yeah. It's good that you paint yourself as the anti-establishment party but let's face it, since you won those twelve MEP seats, you've had one MEP, Tom Wise, accused of fiddling thousands of pounds in expenses another, Ashley Moat, jailed for fraud.
NIGEL FARAGE: Well, in both cases, where we found that people had broken faith with us, what we did was to get rid of them, to expel them immediately. We didn't try and brush it under the carpet, we didn't try and protect these people. We dealt with it immediately and I think it will be a very good thing, perhaps if the big parties dealt with some of their people in Westminster. Clearly they're not doing that. All we're hearing is that the system is going to be reformed. I don't see much prospect of that.
JON SOPEL: One might argue, it's quite a high percentage, quite a high attrition rate for you. Two MEPs out of twelve, another one who left, that's a quarter of your party at Strasbourg gone.
NIGEL FARAGE: Well, when you go from being a tiny political party in terms of representation to being a lot bigger, you perhaps pick up along the way, one or two people that you might not necessarily have chosen if you'd known more about them, but the difference is we're now much more established and I think just the very fact that we've got Marta Andreasen, the former EU Chief Accountant, the whistle blower, the lady that was sacked by Neil Kinnock and has a wonderful financial reputation, the fact we've got her in to become the Party Treasurer, to sort out a new rule book for our MEPs next time round, people can feel confident that whilst things can go wrong with UKIP, as they can with everybody, we do get a grip on it and we do deal with it.
JON SOPEL: I'm just questioning whether you really have the high ground on this issue. I mean for example, if at Westminster Labour had lost a quarter of their MPs because they've been either up to doing wrong - I mean you've lost a quarter of your MEPs.
NIGEL FARAGE: It is better to be rid of people that are bad people and to be leaner and to be true to what people put you in place for. We were voted in to stand up in the European Parliament and to be a voice of opposition on behalf of the British people.
We've done that effectively, we now have a view that Britain should be outside a political union but maintaining close trading links, that is a majority view in this country. I think we've held faith with our voters.
JON SOPEL: Okay, what have you done to clean up the expenses system in Europe?
NIGEL FARAGE: Well, we've argued against it. We've tried to expose it again and again and again. We're told that when we go back in July, there will be a new reform expenses system. We don't quite yet know what the rules are going to be - let's see.
JON SOPEL: But you know, I mean, I think the Liberal Democrats can turn round and say, look, they have played a leading role in trying to clean up the expenses system and might point to what you have done over it.
NIGEL FARAGE: Well, quite frankly, ever since the first day I was elected, I was pointing out very uncomfortably for many other MEPs, the scam that was the traveling racket, where people travel economy class and get paid rather more than that.
I've written articles, I've spoken on programmes. I've said from the start that it's a scam, but actually the expenses that we pay our MEPs, is but a tiny part of the overall, massive cost to this country of being part of the European Union.
JON SOPEL: And won't it be a pretty poor show if you don't beat Labour, when they're at their lowest ebb ever in these Euro elections next month.
NIGEL FARAGE: Look. I think UKIP has every chance, not only of beating the Lib Dems, as we did back in 2004, we've got every chance now of beating the Labour Party. Vote UKIP to get rid of Gordon Brown.
JON SOPEL: Okay, Nigel Farage, we will leave it there. Thank you very much for being with us.
END OF INTERVIEW
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The Politics Show Sunday 17 May 2009 at 12:00 GMT on BBC One.
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