UK Politics

Migrant crisis: Farage says EU 'mad' to accept so many

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Media captionMr Farage told the European Parliament that the EU "must stop the boats coming" like Australia had

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has said the EU was "mad" to accept so many refugees and claimed "Isis are using this route to put jihadists on European soil".

Speaking in the European Parliament, he said the EU should stop boats arriving, as Australia did.

He told European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker that unless he gave back control of the UK borders, Britain would vote to leave the EU.

He was responding to Mr Juncker's "state of the union" annual address.

Mr Juncker said tackling the migration crisis was "a matter of humanity and human dignity", as he urged EU member states to accept their share of an additional 120,000 refugees.

"It's 160,000 refugees in total that Europeans have to take into their arms and I really hope that this time everyone will be on board - no rhetoric, action is what is needed," he told MEPs.

He broke off from his speech to brand the views of UK MEPs who had been heckling him "worthless".

'Cohesion risk'

"You can interrupt me from time to time," said the European Commission president. "I will not at each time respond to what you are saying because what you are saying is worthless."

Reports suggested that the rebuke was aimed at UKIP leader Nigel Farage, but Mr Farage claimed it was directed at Scottish UKIP MEP David Coburn.

In his speech, Mr Farage said: "The majority that are coming are economic migrants.

"In addition we see, as I warned earlier, evidence that Isis are now using this route to put their jihadists on European soil.

"We must be mad to take this risk with the cohesion of our societies.

"If we want to help genuine refugees, if we want to protect our societies, if we want to stop the criminal trafficking gangs from benefiting as they are, we must stop the boats coming as the Australians did and then we can assess who qualifies for refugee status."

'Head and heart'

Mr Farage has called for the creation of off-shore reception centres to assess whether migrants coming to Europe have legitimate claims or not.

Speaking on the BBC News Channel, he said "the vast majority of those who come to Europe would not qualify" as refugees, if a refugee is someone who is in direct fear of persecution for their ethnicity or religious beliefs.

He added that the only way to stop people drowning in the Mediterranean was by telling them "if you come by this route you will not be accepted".

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has refused to take part in the EU quota system for refugees, under which France and Germany will take 55,000 extra refugees.

He has said Britain will accept 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years - and hit back at criticism from Labour and the SNP that it was not enough.

He told MPs: "We have to use our head and our heart.

"We have committed to taking 20,000 people - I want us to get on with that."

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