In a BBC interview, Farage admits that he lost an internal Ukip debate “outright” after he was caught on camera suggesting in 2012 that he would have more confidence if the NHS was funded “through the marketplace of an insurance company”.
Speaking to the BBC’s political editor Nick Robinson, Farage said that he backed down from his remarks after a backlash in Ukip. He told Robinson for his Radio 4 series Can Democracy Work?: “I triggered a debate within Ukip that was outright rejected by my colleagues, so I have to accept that. As time goes on, this is a debate that we’re all going to have to return to.”
Asked whether he stood by his assessment that the numbers would not add up, as long as the NHS is funded solely through taxation, Farage said: “There is no question that healthcare provision is going to have to be very much greater in 10 years than it is today, with an ageing population, and we’re going to have to find ways to do it.”
Robinson was asking Farage about a recording from September 2012, uncovered by the Guardian last November, in which he said: “I think we’re going to have to think about healthcare very, very differently. I think we are going to have to move to an insurance-based system of healthcare.
“Frankly, I would feel more comfortable that my money would return value if I was able to do that through the marketplace of an insurance company than just us trustingly giving £100bn a year to central government and expecting them to organise the healthcare service from cradle to grave for us.”
Farage moved to kill off a controversy over his remarks in the wake of the Guardian’s disclosure by saying that Ukip would guarantee that the NHS would continue to be free at the point of delivery. He said: “I don’t want to hand faceless private-sector companies control of our health service. We’ve now have two successive governments who have done that and it is clear that it doesn’t work.”
In his BBC interview, Farage also said that he and his senior aides would resign if he lost the planned EU referendum. He said: “The loss of a referendum means curtains for Nigel and it means curtains for the current crowd here in head office. But do these ideas die and go away? No, I doubt it.”
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