He once claimed his EU salary and expenses were worth £250,000 a year. His wife is also on the Brussels payroll, earning more than £30,000 a year. But Ukip’s leader, Nigel Farage, has now claimed the couple are “poor”.
Mr Farage, who has been an MEP since 1999, initially described his role in the European Parliament as “a good job” after he was first elected. He claimed that if he had been working for Goldman Sachs he would need to earn £250,000 to match what the EU paid him because of taxation, secretarial allowances and “all the other games you could play”.
So with his own fiscal evaluation meaning he must have earned the equivalent of £3.75m over the past 15 years, his claim in a new Channel 4 documentary about the couple’s wealth – that “I don’t know anybody in politics as poor as we are” – is rather surprising.
Mr Farage, who in August was selected by Ukip to contest the South Thanet seat in Kent at next year’s general election, has a starring role in the new show alongside Steph and Dom Parker from Channel 4 favourite Gogglebox, the observational documentary that features families and couples watching television shows in their own homes.
During Steph and Dom Meet Nigel Farage, where Mr Farage enjoys drinking sessions with the “posh couple” from Sandwich, the Ukip leader says he only has one “small semi-detached house in the country”, that he does not drive a “flash car”, and that he and Kirsten Farage “don’t have expensive holidays, we haven’t done for 10 years”.
But his claims of advanced penury during the show’s chats with Steph and Dom will raise eyebrows, coming from a politician with a current official salary of £79,000, plus office allowances of £42,600 a year. Taking into account his wife’s salary, the Farages are raking in £109,000.
Mr Farage criticised the recent “white van” tweet by Emily Thornberry, the former shadow Attorney General, saying she had “looked down her nose” at someone the Labour Party no longer understood.
The many faces of Nigel Farage
The many faces of Nigel Farage
1/11 Thoughtful face
2/11 Concerned face
Sorry Nigel Farage, but the Red Cross want nothing to do with Ukip
Ian Forsyth/Getty Images
3/11 Aghast face
4/11 Startled face
5/11 Preparing for battle face
6/11 Toad of Toad Hall face
7/11 Faux distressed face
8/11 Pensive face
9/11 Incensed face
10/11 Whatever face
11/11 I've just been egged face
Financial experts will suggest that the Ukip leader is out of touch himself, however, on what qualifies as being poor and he has a different definition of poverty than that officially acknowledged.
The UK’s median gross pay for full-time employees is £517 a week, with “poverty” set at 60 per cent of that level.
During the Gogglebox programme, Mr Farage is seen drinking with the Parkers, and in a “rip-roaring” evening, he stumbles on a step in their Kent garden and smashes a glass of champagne. He is then sent off to change his trousers and emerges with a ripped pair of jeans provided by Mr Parker.
In an interview with the Radio Times – which estimated his house to be worth £540,000 – Mr Farage says he had drunk two-and-a-half pints in the pub with the couple, and then enjoyed a “steady consumption” of five or six glasses of wine and champagne.
He blamed the smashed glass on “physical incapacity”, due to the injuries he suffered during the plane crash he was involved in on the day of the 2010 general election.