Britain has become unrecognisable in recent years and is no longer a community fit for passing to our children and grandchildren, Nigel Farage claimed yesterday in a rallying cry to his party ahead of the European elections.
In his speech to his party conference in Torquay, the Ukip leader said Britain had lost control of its borders. He added that immigration would dominate the polls in May.
He said: “Eighty per cent of us in this country believe open-door immigration is irresponsible, against our interests, and that it must stop.
“We have seen since 2004 a doubling of youth unemployment, we have seen since that time-wage compression – people doing jobs now taking home less money than they were ten years ago.
“All of this has happened because we now have a totally distorted labour market in Britain, because of the massive oversupply that has come to us from eastern Europe.
“It’s ordinary folk, it’s ordinary families that are paying the financial price. But what about the social price of this?
“The fact is that in scores of our cities and market towns, this country in a short space of time has frankly become unrecognisable.
“Whether it is the impact on local schools and hospitals, whether it is the fact in many parts of England you don’t hear English spoken any more.
“This is not the kind of community we want to leave to our children and grandchildren.”
The Ukip leader said none of the three traditional parties had any answers for the British people, claiming they “did not lift a finger” to stop freedom of movement restrictions on Romania and Bulgaria ending in January.
He highlighted Thursday’s immigration figures which showed a big increase in net migration, during a keynote address which drew frequent applause and a standing ovation.
Mr Farage said: “It isn’t directly Romania and Bulgaria that I’m necessarily concerned about. What I’m really concerned about is the fact in the eurozone, in the Mediterranean, there is no sign or prospect of any significant recovery at all.
“In fact, it is most likely the majority of Romanians who come to Britain don’t come from Romania – they will come from Italy and Spain where there are already a million Romanian migrant workers.
“If the eurozone goes as badly over the next few years as I still believe that it will, we face the prospect of the largest migratory wave that has ever come to this country and we have three political parties who are not prepared to do anything about it.”
Speaking after the speech, Mr Farage said he felt “awkward” on a recent train journey in central London when he heard only foreign languages spoken by his fellow passengers.
Pressed on the immigration themes, Mr Farage denied he felt people should be forced to speak English on trains.
But the Ukip leader said: “I got the train the other night, it was rush hour, from Charing Cross, it was the stopper going out. We stopped at London Bridge, New Cross, Hither Green.
“It wasn’t until after we got past Grove Park that I could hear English being audibly spoken in the carriage. Does that make me feel slightly awkward? Yes.
“I wonder what’s really going on. And I’m sure that’s a view that will be reflected by three- quarters of the population, perhaps even more.
“That does not mean one is anti-immigration. We’re not anti-immigration. We want immigration, but we do absolutely believe we should be able to judge it both on quantity and quality.”
Mr Farage said people who supported open-door immigration were welcome to back the Conservatives, Labour or the Liberal Democrats.
But he told his delegates: “If you believe we should govern our borders, if you believe we should control immigration, if you believe we should have a sensible immigration policy where we have not just quantity control but we have quality control as well, if you believe we should model our immigration system along the lines of a country like Australia, then vote Ukip on 22 May.”
He added: “Let’s make patriotism a respectable political idea in Britain again.”