Ukip MP denies being at odds with Farage over 'success' of immigration

Nigel Farage

Ukip MP Douglas Carswell has denied having differences with Nigel Farage after he said immigration had been an overwhelming success story.

The former Conservative, who became Ukip’s first elected MP in the Clacton byelection after defecting, said it was simply not the case that he was at odds with his party leader, despite his positive outlook about the effects of immigration.

He first defended immigration in an article for the Times, in which he also said Enoch Powell was wrong on the subject.

“Immigration has not been without its challenges,” he wrote. “Yet it has been, overwhelmingly, a story of success. Britain today is more at ease with the multi-ethnic society that we have become than once seemed imaginable – and not just to Enoch Powell. Like many before and since, Powell underestimated the ability of a free society to adapt.

“Powell talked of Britain ‘heaping up its own funeral pyre’. Yet our country has more than survived. We have, in all kinds of ways, thrived.”

Farage has previously backed the “basic principle” of Enoch Powell’s warning that mass immigration can make people feel like strangers in their own country – a claim that the Tory politician made during his 1968 “rivers of blood” speech.

However, Carswell told an audience in Westminster that his views were “100% in line with and reflective of Ukip’s position”.

Ukip’s main immigration policies are that it wants to bring in an Australian-style points system to make sure immigrants are skilled and can support themselves for at least five years, including having their own medical insurance.

“I don’t think I could get into a lift at the moment without somebody writing an article somewhere saying Nigel Farage would have taken the stairs. I keep on being told that whatever I do is at odds with the party leader. It is simply not the case,” Carswell said.

He added: “People in Westminster aren’t particularly interested in what Ukip’s policy actually is, instead they go on what they imagine it to be.”

Carswell made the remarks ahead of a speech on immigration that he is due to give at the British Future thinktank on Tuesday evening.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Rowena Mason, political correspondent, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 24th February 2015 18.21 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010