Britain is the “cheap labour economy of the European Union” as a result of waves of immigration in recent years, Nigel Farage has claimed.
The Ukip leader also repeated a controversial call for Britain to shut its doors to new arrivals with a “serious life-threatening illness”.
An academic study today calculated that migrant workers from the EU had contributed far more in tax than they had claimed in benefits over a decade.
It found that immigrants who arrived since 2000 were 43 per cent less likely than UK-born workers to receive state benefits or tax credits and seven per cent less likely to live in social housing.
And it suggested the newcomers were more highly educated than the UK average.
But, speaking during the Rochester by-election campaign, Mr Farage lambasted the “uncontrolled” levels of migration from the EU.
He told a Ukip hustings: “What we have got is a massive oversupply in the labour market which has driven down wages. We have literally made this country now the cheap labour economy of the European Union."
He added that migration had benefited the rich and multinational firms because it meant “cheaper chauffeurs, cheaper gardeners and cheaper nannies”.
An international lawyer specialising in immigration said Mr Farage’s comments contained “worrying” overtones.
Sarosh Zaiwalla said: “Although it’s tempting to some to acquiesce to popular opinion and focus only on the negative aspects of international migration, we need to remember that some migrants have brought both financial and economic gain to the UK.
“As a migrant myself, it’s unsettling to learn that Britain is seriously considering no longer allowing migrants through.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies