Nigel Farage was last week slammed by a HIV-positive migrant for attacking the number of foreign nationals who receive treatment on the NHS. But a poll has since suggested that half of voters agree with the Ukip leader.
Farage insisted over the weekend that he has received “overwhelming support” from the general public over the controversial comments he made during last week's televised general election leaders’ debate.
Now, a YouGov poll of 1,906 adults has shown that 50 per cent of electors answered ‘yes’ to the question: “Would you support or oppose people coming to live in the UK being banned from receiving treatment on the NHS for a period of five years?”
A further 34 per cent opposed a ban, while 16 per cent said they did not know.
When participants were asked whether Farage’s comments best reflected their view, fifty-two per cent answered: "Nigel Farage was right to raise this issue - immigrants with serious conditions like HIV are costing the health service a large amount of money”.
Meanwhile, 37 per cent agreed with the statement: “Nigel Farage was just scaremongering - compared to the total cost of the NHS this is a drop in the ocean,” and one in ten said they did not know.
Ukip gaffes and controversies
Ukip gaffes and controversies
1/12 Neil Hamilton
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2/12 Kerry Smith
Kerry Smith resigned as would-be MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock after it emerged he had mocked gay party members as “disgusting poofters”, joked about shooting people from Chigwell in a “peasant hunt” and referred to someone with a Chinese name as a “Chinky bird”
3/12 Natasha Bolter
Former Ukip member Natasha Bolter was suspected of not having the teaching qualifications she professed to, only days after it was revealed that claims of her having attended Oxford University were also false
4/12 Ukip Calypso song
Mike Reid released a single in praise of UKIP trying to control the UK's borders, only to withdraw the single after being accused of racism for singing in a Jamaican accent
5/12 Farage 'car-crash' interview
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6/12 Janice Atkinson
Janice Atkinson, Ukip's South East chair, pictured by protesters while campaigning in Ashford, Kent with local party chair Norman Taylor
7/12 Ukip cancels Freephone
Ukip cancels Freephone number after protesters repeatedly called to push up costs
8/12 Farage 'car-crash' interview
Mr Farage appeared to be caught out on a number of issues, from Romanian neighbours to people speaking foreign languages on the train
9/12 Ukip employs illegal immigrants
Ukip criticised after European election candidate found employing illegal immigrants
10/12 Magnus Nielsen
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11/12 London Live make-up
Ukip's Nigel Farage reportedly refused to go on London Live 'without professional make up-artist'
Nigel Farage says he is taking taking legal advice over “outrageous” allegations that he is responsible for more than £50,000 of “missing” EU funding that was paid directly into his personal bank account
A Ukip spokesman said: "This poll finding shows yet again the disconnect that exists between the Westminster bubble and much of the population.
"Nigel Farage is the one leader who has the political courage to raise difficult issues and clearly millions of voters agree with that stance."
Asked if he made the comments during the debate to spark a reaction, Mr Farage replied yesterday: "I wanted to make people think and understand why their grandmother who is 85 finds it very difficult to get drugs for breast cancer but anybody can get on a plane from anywhere in the world, be HIV tested in London and receive antiretroviral drugs.
"Something, it seems to me, isn't right here."
While the polls following the debate returned conflicting percentages on which candidate had won, a YouGov poll saw Farage come in second behind SNP First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, followed by Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour Leader Ed Miliband.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg claimed fifth place, which the Green Party’s Natalie Bennett and Plaid Cymrus’ Leanne Wood came in sixth and seventh, respectively.