Nigel Farage has rejected suggestions he bears some responsibility for an apparent spike in race hate after the Brexit vote, and claimed he had “destroyed” the far right in Britain.
Sporting a new moustache, Mr Farage claimed Ukip won over protest voters who previously backed the “genuinely anti-Jew, anti-Black” British National Party.
The former Ukip leader drew criticism during the referendum campaign with a “Breaking Point” poster depicting a stream of brown-skinned refugees fleeing to the EU.
A surge in reports of xenophobic and racist hate crime following the vote to leave the EU prompted the new government to launch an action plan to deal with it.
But Mr Farage rejected the idea that some of the rhetoric of the Brexit campaign may have contributed to the spike in incidents.
He said: “Let me say this to you: do I feel responsible for people saying extreme things? Quite the reverse.
“I destroyed the BNP – we had a far-right party in this country who genuinely were anti-Jew, anti-black, all of those things, and I came along, and said to their voters, if you’re holding your nose and voting for this party as a protest, don’t.
“I just want us to start putting British people first, and I, almost single-handedly, destroyed the far right in British politics.”