Former UKIP chief Nigel Farage has launched a broadside against Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson after her intervention yesterday urging for a sensible debate on immigration.
Brexit-backing Farage, who made immigration a central plank of his campaign to leave the European Union last year, took issue with Ms Davidson’s piece in Tuesday’s Telegraph newspaper, in which she cast doubt on the viability of her party’s pledge to cut immigration to under 100,000 a year.
The MEP used his nightly LBC radio show to accuse Ms Davidson of being one of what he calls a growing breed of politicians who ‘masquerade’ as Conservatives to get elected before becoming more moderate after the fact.
He also accused Ms Davidson of ducking a debate with him after he issued a challenge to her via the Scottish Tory press office to phone in to the LBC studio to present her case.
Farage said: “The person that wants us to have this big, open rational debate is not going to do any media because she doesn’t want to have an open, rational debate.”
“She says ‘it’s a matter of public trust that we get immigration right’ - you bet it is Ruth.
“Because the party that you represent, in all three recent general election manifestos, pledged to reduce migration to tens of thousands a year.
“13.5 million people voted for that just a few months ago and now you want to over turn it without even referring back to them and not even being prepared to come on this show and debate some of the issues.”
Ms Davidson, who even Nigel Farage conceded had enjoyed a ‘good year’ after leading the Tories to sweeping gains at the snap general election, said in her Telegraph piece that the public were owed a ‘mature debate’ on the subject of immigration.
The Scottish Conservative leader also appeared to take a swipe at Farage directly by writing: “This isn’t a time for slogans on mugs or ‘Breaking Point’ posters”, the latter example a reference to Farage’s infamous anti-immigration campaign showing Middle Eastern refugees.
a Scottish Conservative spokesman said: “If Nigel Farage is wondering why Ruth didn’t call in, it’s because she doesn’t listen to LBC, mainly because she lives more than 400 miles away from where it is broadcast.”