Farage says UK Independence Party will help No campaign

Mon, Mar 5, 2012, 00:00

THE IRISH people are paying the price for the Government’s decision not to negotiate a debt write-off from the EU, the leader of the UK Independence Party, Nigel Farage has declared.

Speaking in Skegness, Mr Farage said the Irish had accepted an “austerity package and taken the pain”, yet they now see the Greeks “being let off half their debt”.

“I would be pretty cheesed off if I was Irish, I would be saying, ‘Hang on, we have played by the rules’,” said Mr Farage, who said he would support the No campaign during the upcoming referendum.

Supporting Minister Joan Burton’s demand for a cut to the repayments due on Anglo bank promissory notes, he said the Government’s decision not to seek such cuts “surprises me”.

“The whole point about the EU is that you only get your way if you threaten things. The French have shown that time and time again.

“You have to be very, very hard in the councils of Europe, it is the only way that you are going to be listened to, so, yes, they potentially had a very good bargaining chip,” he went on.

Though supportive, the UK Independence Party leader said Irish “No” campaigners must first decide on their aim in the campaign to come, he suggested: “The No side is going to need to think very carefully about what it is asking no to.

“Is it saying no to the terms? Is it looking for a renegotiation of the interest rates and the current terms of the bailout? Is that what the No side is trying to achieve? Or is it going to become a much bigger referendum and effectively become about Ireland’s membership of the euro?”

In an earlier speech to the Ukip spring conference, Mr Farage said the party will “help the No campaign in Ireland, too”, possibly by repeating its pamphlet campaigns as it did for the Lisbon and Nice treaties.“In Lisbon One, what we did had an effect because they were quite abusive about me. I am wanting to help the No side, because it seems to me, in terms of funding and everything else, it will be completely unfair again. I want to help the No side, but I have to see who the No side is.”

He expressed surprise at anti-Lisbon Treaty campaigner, Declan Ganley’s recent comments: “It seems that [he] is not going to take part in it, or is undecided.

“I have been surprised by many things Declan Ganley has done over the last year, or so. We thought that Declan Ganley was this pro-European eurosceptic. Then, [we had] the pronouncements the other week that actually we should be moving on to a bigger political union.

“It seems to me that Mr Ganley has changed his mind and I am a bit surprised by that.”

Despite public declarations of calm in Brussels, he said some of the high priests of the project were worried when they spoke on the margins of last week’s EU summit in Brussels.