Nigel Farage urges 'mass protest' at alcohol guidelines
UKIP leader Nigel Farage has urged a "mass protest" at new alcohol guidelines in the UK, which he says are a "form of nannying".
Recommended weekly alcohol limits have been substantially reduced and health officials now say there is no such thing as a safe level of drinking.
Mr Farage conceded there was a problem with a "binge drinking mentality".
But he said people should be able to enjoy a drink or two whether "it slightly shortens our lives or not".
Mr Farage has traded on his "man in the pub" reputation during his political career, frequently being pictured with a pint in his hand during campaigning or after election victories and describing every pub as a Parliament where political views are formed and exchanged.
The UKIP leader told LBC Radio that he was dismayed by the new guidelines, joking that he was now "25% more likely to die" than before.
Following its first full review of alcohol guidelines since 1995, the government now says men and women who drink regularly should consume no more than 14 units a week - equivalent to six pints of beer or seven glasses of wine.
The previous guidance set out daily drinking limits of three to four units for men and two to three for women. The UK's chief medical officers say new research shows any amount of alcohol can increase the risk of cancer.
Mr Farage said he was upset "to turn on the news this morning and hear some appalling puritanical figure telling us no level of drinking is safe".
"I think what we ought to do is have a mass protest against this form of nannying and we should all come out at lunch and have a glass of something."
The UKIP leader acknowledged there was a problem was excessive alcohol consumption in the UK but people should be trusted to know their limits.
"Even intelligent youngsters go out on a Friday night with the intention of getting hammered, we know that. But, frankly, if we choose to enjoy a few drinks four or five nights a week after a hard day at work whether it slightly shortens our lives or not, so what.
"Do what you enjoy - and I think to basically tell us that any form of drinking is likely to lead to our death is just so over the top that we will probably behave in the opposite way. I certainly will at midday today."
The new guidance suggests that if people drink, it should be moderately over three or more days and that some days should be alcohol-free. People should not "save up" their units and drink them all in one or two goes while pregnant women should not drink at all.
How the advice has changed
Previous government guidance set out daily drinking limits of three to four units for men and two to three for women. The new guidance moves to weekly limits to get away from the idea that drinking every day is fine.
The new 14 units limit therefore represents a cut in drinking levels for both men and women, although since 1995 doctors' groups have been advising that over the course of a week men should limit themselves to 21 units and women 14 units - the lower end of the daily range the government has been advising. So in effect the government guidance has caught up with the medical advice - and gone a bit further.
On drinking in pregnancy, the new advice is unambiguous. Women should not drink. Previously women in Wales, Northern Ireland and England had been told not to drink but if they did to limit it.
The latest guidance makes it clear people should be teetotal on some days and that heavy drinking sessions should be avoided. The 1995 guidelines did not set this out categorically.