UK Politics

UKIP leader Nigel Farage defends HIV remarks

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Media captionNigel Farage insisted foreign patients were "putting pressure" on the NHS

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage has defended comments suggesting immigrants who are HIV-positive should not be allowed to come to the UK.

In an interview in Newsweek Europe, Mr Farage said he wanted to "control the quantity and quality of people who come... people who do not have HIV".

Mr Farage later told the BBC he would extend the ban to "people with tuberculosis too".

Campaigners have condemned the UKIP leader's comments.

The interview was published on the same day that UKIP won its first parliamentary seat in the Clacton by-election and came a close second in the Heywood and Middleton by-election.

Mr Farage told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the UK's public services could not cope with extra demand created by people with severe medical conditions coming to Britain.

"We want people to come who have got trades and skills, but we don't want people who have got criminal records - and we can't afford people with life-threatening diseases," he said.

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Media captionNigel Farage: Ban sufferers of life-threatening illness from entering UK

"I do not think people with life-threatening diseases should be treated by our National Health Service and that is an absolute essential condition for working out a proper immigration policy.

"We have leading cancer experts in Britain saying the burden now of treating overseas people is leading to huge shortages in the system."

He added the UK should follow similar bans he said were in place in the United States and Australia.

Mr Carswell's father is an eminent physician who is regarded as having been one of the first medical researchers to identify HIV while working in Uganda.

During a walkabout in Clacton, Mr Carswell declined to comment on Mr Farage's remarks but called for "an Australian-type immigration system, with control over our borders".

About 40% of new HIV diagnoses in 2013 were of people born outside the UK, according to Public Health England.

Tory defector and UKIP candidate for the parliamentary seat of Rochester and Strood, Mark Reckless, said he did not believe there should be a blanket ban on people with HIV entering the country.

Open door

He added he believed the Mr Farage's comments, as reported by Newsweek Europe, were misleading.

In his interview with Newsweek Europe Mr Farage is quoted as saying immigrants from outside Europe are "discriminated against because we have an open door into Europe today".

Mr Farage added: "If you're an Indian engineer, say, your chances of admission are limited. UKIP want to control the quantity and quality of people who come."

The UKIP leader then went on to define what he meant by "quality".

"It's simple. That Latvian convicted murderer shouldn't have been allowed here. Yes and people who do not have HIV, to be frank. That's a good start. And people with a skill."

"What are those words inscribed under the Statue of Liberty? 'Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses . . . ' What you're saying is: 'Bring me your electricians, your merchant bankers and your guys without HIV'."

"There are 190 countries in the world," Mr Farage added, "that operate like that".

'Ignorant'

In Australia, migrants are required to answer a series of questions about their skills and personal circumstances, for which they are awarded points.

Applicants need at least 65 points or their request for a visa will be rejected. However, there is no mention of personal health as one of the factors taken into account.

Those applying for permanent residency in the US or naturalisation need to undergo a medical screening for inadmissible health-related conditions.

The Terrence Higgins Trust said the UKIP leader's remarks displayed a "new level of ignorance".

"The idea that having HIV should be used as a black mark against someone's name is ridiculous and shows an outrageous lack of understanding of the issue," the charity's chief executive Rosemary Gillespie said.

"In bracketing those living with the condition with murderers, and suggesting there is no place for them in his vision of Britain, Mr Farage has stooped to a new level of ignorance. He should be truly ashamed," she added.

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