Sat, Feb 02, 2013 - Page 9 News List

British anti-EU party leader sees exit from bloc ‘in few years’

By Andrew Osborn and Guy Faulconbridge  /  Reuters, LONDON

UKIP’s journey to the political mainstream is far from complete at the ballot box; Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system — which only values a party’s support in each constituency rather than nationwide — means it would not win a single parliamentary seat if an election was held today.

One recent poll, the methodology of which Farage contests, put UKIP support at just 7 percent. However, most others have estimated its vote at up to 16 percent.

Naming his heroes, Farage listed Robert Peel, a 19th-century Conservative prime minister who defied party aristocrats to end corn tariffs and promote free trade, William Wilberforce, who helped end the slave trade, and Enoch Powell, a leading Conservative ostracized in 1968 after criticizing immigration policy in what became known as the “rivers of blood” speech.

What Farage said he admired about them all was that they challenged the “status quo,” regardless of the consequences.

He did not spell it out, but it is clear he thinks he is doing the same with Britain and the EU.

“The same idiots that are now telling us that unless we stay part of the EU single market we’re doomed are the same idiots who told us if we didn’t join the euro we’d lose all that business,” he said. “What do they know?”

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