Nigel Farage ignites race row after calling for discrimination to be legalised

Employers should be free to discriminate on the basis of race or nationality, Ukip leader Nigel Farage has claimed.

Farage said it is "ludicrous" employers are not allowed to turn candidates away on the basis of where they were born.

"I think the situation that we now have, where an employer is not allowed to choose between a British-born person and somebody from Poland, is a ludicrous state of affairs," he told a Channel Four documentary team.

"I think you should be able to choose on the basis of nationality, yes. I do."

Asked whether Ukip would also keep laws against "discrimination on the grounds of race or colour," he replied "no."

"We are colour blind. We as a party are colour blind."

"I would argue that that the law does need changing, and that if an employer wishes to choose, or you can use the word 'discriminate' if you want to, but wishes to choose to employ a British-born person, they should be allowed to do so."

He claimed there was an "especial problem" with Muslim immigrants to the UK.

"There is an especial problem with some of the people who've come here and who are of the Muslim religion who don’t want to become part of our culture.

"So there is no previous experience, in our history, of a migrant group that comes to Britain, that fundamentally wants to change who we are and what we are. That is I think above everything else, what people are really concerned about."

In particularly inflammatory comments, he suggested that some Muslim immigrants "hate us and want to kill us".

"I think perhaps one of the reasons the polls show an increasing level of concern is because people do see a fifth column living within our country, who hate us and want to kill us.

"So don’t be surprised if there isn’t a slight increase in people’s worries and concerns."

He also suggested that scrapping anti-discrimination laws would be okay as racism is no longer a problem in the UK.

"If we'd sat here 40 years ago, having this conversation, your point [on the need for anti-discrimination laws] would probably have been valid. I don’t think it is today."

Farage's comments drew a rare response from the prime minister, who normally avoids mentioning Farage by name. 

"Nigel Farage is attention seeking. The laws protect people from racial discrimination. It's deeply concerning he doesn't understand that, " he tweeted.

Labour also described his comments as "shocking"

"This is one of the most shocking things I have ever heard from a mainstream politician and demonstrates breath-taking ignorance," Labour's shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said this morning.

"We have made huge progress on tackling racial inequality and discrimination in this country, partly because of Labour's strong anti-discrimination laws, but things are still far from perfect.

"When my parents moved to London they frequently saw signs saying 'no blacks, no dogs, no Irish'; what Ukip is suggesting would take us back to those days."

Ed Miliband described Farage's comments as "dangerous".

"I think Nigel Farage's comments today are wrong, divisive and dangerous. The laws we have on equality represent our values as a country," he said.

Farage today claimed that his comments had been "misinterpreted."

"Wilful misinterpretation of what I said. I'm talking Britons, whatever their heritage, being discriminated against in favour of EU migrants," he tweeted.

This is not the first time Farage has been attacked for inflammatory comments about race.

Last year the Ukip leader admitted that hearing foreign voices on the train made him feel "awkward" and uncomfortable. He was also forced to backtrack after suggesting that he would not want to live next door to a group of Romanian men.

A poll last month showed growing numbers of voters see Ukip as a racist party. The Comres poll for ITV found that 44% of voters believe Ukip are a "racist party" with just 36% disagreeing. This is up twelve points from last year.