Nigel Farage told EURACTIV.com that UKIP’s role after the UK referendum on Europe was to ensure there was “no backsliding or betrayal” on the vote to Leave. But he refused to say if he would dissolve his party, born as a single issue campaign, after Britain quits the EU.
Nigel Farage is leader of the UK Independence Party and a member of the European Parliament. He spoke to EURACTIV.com News Editor James Crisp at the European Council held in Brussels to discuss the UK referendum.
You can listen to the interview on Soundcloud, or read the transcript below.
This is your moment…
Fantastic I can hardly believe it. I hadn’t realised actually how seismic it was until I got here and saw the reaction this morning. It has had a seismic effect on British politics, but it may well have a seismic effect on European politics, too.
What’s your message to the European people?
To the European people, well I think we’ve done it, we’ve shown that the little people can win. I do not think for a minute that we’re the last country that will leave the European Union.
In terms of the negotiations, the message that I tried to put in the European Parliament but was roundly abused for doing so, was “let’s try and be grown up about this”. If this was a tariff barrier erected between the United Kingdom and the EU, it would hurt them far more than it would hurt us. Hundreds of thousands of German car workers could lose their jobs if they don’t get tariff free access to the UK market.
Could Brexit lead to proper European reform?
I don’t think this project understands the word reform. I think they are so hell-bent with their EU-nationalism, their project of building a state, they are hell-bent on an army, on an activist foreign policy. I don’t think they are going to learn anything from Brexit.
Was the campaign too focused on immigration? It was criticised for being racist.
Well, it’s the number one issue in British politics. It has been for about six years. The reason is the impact that irresponsible, open-door immigration has on wages, accessibility of schools, GP services and all of those things.
There’s been racist attacks in recent days. It’s been horrible.
It’s horrible on both sides. We’ve got a country of greatly heightened tensions. I’ve always condemned behaviour like that and I will go on doing so.
[Other reporter] Are you planning to resign?
I am not going to resign until Britain leaves the European Union and then I will resign. Don’t forget I am the turkey that voted for Christmas last Thursday (23 June).
What’s the point of UKIP now?
The point of UKIP now is to make sure that the wishes of 17.5 million people are actually carried out, to make sure there is no backsliding and there is no betrayal.
So you won’t dissolve the party when we do Brexit?
Once we do Brexit, who cares? I got into politics to get my country back as an independent sovereign nation. That is what I care about. I was over the moon last Friday morning (24 June) when the results came in. I’ve been a little bit nervous in the last 24 hours, because I’ve seen some senior figures on the Leave side who appear to be backsliding.
They are backsliding.
Yeah, well if they do, I tell you there will be even bigger political ramifications than we’ve seen already.
[Other reporter] Is the Norway option acceptable?
No, we didn’t vote for that. We did not vote to be part of this outdated cartel that is called the single market. We voted to be free of it, to stop regulating the 88% of the economy that does not export goods to the European Union.
To access the single market, you have to accept the supremacy of the European Court of Justice.
Any country in the world can access the single market. There is some nonsense talked about this. The question is on what terms can you access it.
If things went badly and there was no deal, no deal is better than the deal Britain has currently got. There are no losses for us in any of this. But if we do go back to tariff barriers between the two of us, it’s the EU that will hurt more than us so it doesn’t make sense.
So I hope we can all be grown-up, pragmatic and sensible and reach a tariff free deal between us and the EU, that would be the best option for everybody.