‘Cameron wants to kick EU exit issue into long grass’ – UKIP leader

Despite the British government’s desire to soft-pedal the country’s possible EU exit, the referendum to decide UK’s future in the Union must be held before the 2015 general election, believes the leader of the UK Independence Party, Nigel Farage.

With a lot of hard feeling swirling around the EU, one thing many seem agreed on is anger at Brussels. Nine European countries are now in recession and, with no end to austerity in sight, EU membership appears to be more trouble than its worth for some.

The leader of the Euroskeptical UKIP party, Nigel Farage, says recent research show that by participating in the EU, Britain is annually losing more than £100 billion due to membership fees and the Union’s regulations.  

RT: Support for your cause is growing, and as our Berlin correspondent reported, the UK's EU cousins don't mind Britain leaving. So who wants the UK to stay?

Nigel Farage: Germany wants the UK to stay – because Germany thinks that if the UK leaves the whole thing will unravel. And if it unravels, including the Eurozone, than the Germans will have some very big losses. And also, you know, the Germans are the ones that have benefited out of the Eurozone. Most of their growth over the last four, five or six years has been to the cost of other Eurozone countries. So the Germans – very very keen to keep Britain in.

RT: There are repeated warnings that foreign investors are being put off by the uncertainty. Does Britain fully understand the possible ramifications of the exit from the EU?

NF: Well, what would’ve been really damaging to the UK is if we’d been stupid enough to join the Eurozone. Thank goodness, we said ‘no.’ Otherwise we’d in a similar state to many of the Mediterranean countries today. That was the first big good decision that we’ve made. Now I do understand the argument about uncertainty, even though I very much take the view that trade would go on between Britain and the rest of Europe completely unaffected by us leaving the political union. After all, the European countries sell far more goods to us than we do to them. But I do understand that anything where you’re told there could be a four-and-a-half, perhaps a five-year debate on the subject could lead to uncertainty. All of which really reinforces my view that what [British PM, David] Cameron has done here is to attempt to kick this issue off into the long grass. And really we’ve got a have a referendum to sort this issue before the next general election.  

RT: Instead of keeping one hand on the exit, why aren't Euro MPs like yourself taking more advantage of trying to change things from within Brussels?

NF: Oh, goodness me, if we try to reform this thing from within I’d need to live to 300 to have much chance. Listen, the interesting thing is that in response to the Eurozone crisis really almost everybody inside the EU – rather than saying let’s reform things, let’s change things, let’s accept this model isn’t really working – they’ve done the opposite. They’re saying: ‘Oh, goodness me, we must have more Europe, more integration, we must take yet more democracy away from member states. Nobody, but nobody, inside these institutions is talking about reform in the same terms as the UK debate and Mr Cameron are. They are two completely different things.  

RT: Britain's membership is estimated to be worth between £31 and 92 billion pounds per year in income gains according to business leaders – what would that be replaced with?

There are some business figures, many of whom have already got knighthoods or peerages, worth noting that and people, who are heads of giant multinational companies. And they’ve got businesses in Europe, and they’ve also got big businesses in Europe. And I can see the argument that if you’re multinational the EU way of making law is to your benefit because it puts out of business all of your small and medium-size competitors. So, I understand that. But the idea that because we’re members of the political union, because we’ve surrendered our democracy means that other countries in Europe will do business with us is nonsense. We do business all over the world without being in a political union with anybody else. And far from it being a big benefit to the British economy there are many other people – right through from the Institute of Directors, through some recent analysis from professor Tim Compton, one of the government’s former wise men, saying actually this is costing us, some say, more than £100 billion per year to be in, with membership fees and the regulation, which the British government would never ever choose.