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Nigel Farage claims net migration would have fallen to 50,000 if he was ‘in charge’ after Brexit

Former Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage (PA Archive)
Former Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage (PA Archive)

Nigel Farage has claimed that net migration in the UK would have dipped to 50,000 a year if he was “in charge” after Brexit.

The former leader of the Brexit Party has accused the Government of ignoring “the will of the people” after the UK left the European, as figures revealed that net migration had risen nearly three-fold compared to the pre-Brexit average.

He told Sky News: “We could have got it down to 50,000. If they put me in charge of it we would have got to 50,000 a year, no question about it, but they didn’t.

He added: “They have ignored what was said in that Brexit referendum and so now a bigger question emerges as to how we are going to change politics in this country.”

In a podcast with Sky News’ political editor Beth Rigby released on Friday he said: “I wasn’t in charge. Had we been a European country with proportional representation, I would have been in a position of authority to work with Government to try and achieve this.”

Mr Farage said he would reduce the number of international workers permitted in the UK to give a “realistic chance of people finding somewhere to live...people getting access to NHS”.

Asked whether he would accept any responsibility for the failures of Brexit he said: “Absolutely none. I was very, very clear that this was about reducing numbers, about moving to an Australian points system where you set the barriers, and you set the levels, so you get genuinely skilled migrants, and Boris Johnson wilfully lowered those salary levels.”

Official data published on Thursday by the Office for National Statistics showed net migration of 606,000 for last year, nearly three times the pre-Brexit average of between 200,000 and 250,000.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said that the numbers were “just too high” and he remained committed to bringing them down. He denied that net migration was out of control.

Asked whether Rishi Sunak would like to apologise, his official spokesman told reporters: “We are working to bring those numbers down. We’ve set out a significant package to do that just this week as well as all the work that goes alongside stopping the boats.

“It’s also important to understand what sits beneath some of those numbers, 114,000 Ukrainians coming over for example, 52,000 British nationals from Hong Kong. We think that is something the public can be rightly proud of.”

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick said British businesses should invest in training UK citizens rather than pulling the “easy lever” of hiring overseas workers.