UK Politics

Only we can tackle immigration - BNP's Nick Griffin

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionBNP's Nick Griffin: "We want to leave Europe immediately, without negotiations"

British National Party leader Nick Griffin has said the European elections will hinge on "our issues".

Launching his party's campaign, he told the BBC the BNP had brought the debates on cutting immigration and leaving the EU to public prominence.

Mr Griffin said there was "huge support" for its policies, despite "persecution" by the media.

The BNP won almost a million votes at the last elections, in 2009, gaining two members of the European Parliament.

But the party has seen its opinion poll ratings fall sharply since then and has lost members - including one of its MEPs Andrew Brons, who has set up his own party - amid internal feuding.

'Tremendous response'

Like UKIP, the BNP wants British withdrawal from the EU - but it takes a harder line on immigration, calling for a total halt. UKIP argues for tighter border controls.

Mr Griffin insisted only his party's policies were robust enough, saying: "We are saying if people go for a referendum [on Europe], it will be rigged like it was in 1975. So we are saying Britain should withdraw straight away - no arguments, no referendum, just get Britain out."

He added: "We are the only party that, when we say, 'Stop immigration,' we actually mean it. UKIP is saying 50,000 net. That would actually mean 300,000 Africans and Asians coming in every year under their plans.

"Our position is very simple. We don't care if they are white, black, brown or green. Britain's full. We should shut the doors."

Mr Griffin, an MEP for North West England, said EU governments had become more in favour of starting wars and that his intervention had been vital in preventing a Western conflict with Syria last year.

He added: "Now they are trying to organise a war against Russia over Ukraine and it's absolutely vital to send people to Europe who argue to keep us out of further wars and keep the peace."

The BNP leader travelled to Syria to advise senior government officials about the best way to appeal to British MPs ahead of a crucial Commons vote.

Mr Griffin came eighth in the North West poll in 2009 to claim a seat in Brussels, with 8% of the vote.

His party's national opinion poll ratings are currently between 0% and 1%, but Mr Griffin said he had been getting a "tremendous response" from voters in the region.

He added: "A lot of people are going to be fooled into voting for UKIP - but we really don't need that many voters to get me back in the North West, and a lot of people want to have an MEP where they actually know who he is. The others are all faceless. I'm a character."

The European and local elections take place on 22 May. The BNP has a full slate of 70 candidates for the European elections.