David Cameron believes Nigel Farage’s call to scrap race discrimination laws is “deeply concerning” and shows the Ukip leader is “wrong and desperate for attention”, Downing Street has said.
This morning Mr Farage came out fighting in defence of comments he made in a Channel 4 documentary saying legislation preventing racial discrimination in the workplace should be scrapped because it is out of date. In it he said it was “ludicrous" that employers are banned from discriminating between Britons and foreign-born workers.
Labour joined Downing Street in condemning his remarks, accusing the Ukip leader of “breathtaking ignorance”. Sadiq Khan the shadow justice secretary and second generation immigrant, described the comments as “one of the most shocking things I have ever heard”.
Mr Farage hit back on Twitter, claiming he was the “only party leader standing up for British workers, whatever their colour”. He added: “And I would suggest the REAL racists in our society are the ones who hear me say "British" and think "white". Deeply concerning.” He also questioned Mr Khan’s links to Cage, the charity that defended the Isis murderer Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John.
“I hear Labour's Sadiq Khan is upset too. Well I'm pretty concerned that he spoke at a CAGE event. Will he answer to that?”
Speaking to LBC this morning, Mr Farage stood by his call for race laws to be scrapped, insisting it was “not a white v black thing” and added it was "wholly uncontroversial" to claim that some Muslims want to change British culture and bring in Sharia law.”
A Downing Street spokesman said: "Nigel Farage is wrong and desperate for attention. The laws are there to protect people from racial discrimination. It's deeply concerning he doesn't understand that."
Mr Farage made the comments in an interview with ex-equalities watchdog chief Trevor Phllips for a Channel 4 documentary, Things We Won't Say About Race That Are True, due to be shown next Thursday. Asked specifically if Ukip would retain laws against discrimination on the grounds of race or colour, he replied: “No, because … we as a party are colour-blind.”
In a strongly-worded attack, Mr Khan said: "This is one of the most shocking things I have ever heard from a mainstream politician and demonstrates breath-taking ignorance.
"When my parents moved to London they frequently saw signs saying 'no blacks, no dogs, no Irish'; what Ukip is suggesting would take us back to those days."
In the documentary, Mr Farage said: "I think the situation that we now have, where an employer is not allowed to choose between a British-born person and somebody from Poland, is a ludicrous state of affairs. I think that we have taken our relationship with Europe to a level that, frankly, has gone against common sense, and certainly against self-interest.
"I would argue that the law does need changing, and that if an employer wishes to choose, or you can use the word 'discriminate' if you want to, but wishes to choose to employ a British-born person, they should be allowed to do so.
"I think you should be able to choose on the basis of nationality, yes. I do."
Explaining his comments this morning, the Ukip leader told LBC: "We've never before had a migrant group come to Britain who have tried to change our culture, and unfortunately there are a small number in the Muslim community who genuinely want to bring Sharia law to Britain. So, I think that's a wholly uncontroversial comment.
"Second thing I was saying was this: small businesses, there are only five million of them, and they are a massively important part of our economy. They feel very, very pressured by continued legislation and in many cases are actually fearful of taking on staff.
"What I said is this: that if a British employer in small business wants to employ a British person over somebody from Poland they should be able to do that without fear that they contravene discrimination laws. That's all I have said."
Asked about his claims that some Muslims wanted to change Britain, he replied: "I'll give a personal example of a taxi driver that I caught a taxi home from Hertfordshire with 18 months ago.
"Very bright, well educated, terribly nice fellow, I sat in the front with him. He told me, 'your society in Britain is rotten and it needs changing, we are going to take over and introduce Sharia law'."
He added: "You have got to look at the British-born people, British-born passport holders, who have been going out to fight for Isis."
"This is not a white v black thing at all. I have made no comment at all on that."Reuse content