Ukip’s Farage dismisses health rumours ahead of UK election

Party leader says back pain has hampered his canvassing but he is getting treatment

Ukip leader Nigel Farage  said he has been dogged by chronic back pain that has hampered his ability to campaign for the May 7th British general election. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Ukip leader Nigel Farage said he has been dogged by chronic back pain that has hampered his ability to campaign for the May 7th British general election. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

 

Nigel Farage, the leader of Britain’s anti-EU Ukip, on Saturday dismissed rumours he was seriously unwell but said he had been dogged by chronic back pain that has hampered his ability to campaign for the May 7th election.

Mr Farage, the 51-year-old former commodities trader who is routinely pictured with a cigarette in one hand and a pint of beer in the other, has been dogged by speculation of ill-health since he appeared tired and subdued on the campaign trail.

“There were a lot of rumours at the start of this campaign that I was unwell, which I denied,” he told the Daily Telegraph, ahead of what is shaping up to be Britain’s tightest election in a generation.

“I was not unwell - I have not had heart palpitations - but I was getting increasingly terrible pain in my shoulder, my back, and so I was suffering from neuralgic pain.”

Mr Farage, who has survived testicular cancer and being hit by a car, was seriously hurt in 2010 when a small plane he was travelling in to campaign for the election that year crashed.

Syphoning support

Often seen as a one-man band fronted by Mr Farage, Ukip is set to play a key role in the election because it syphons support from prime minister David Cameron’s Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party, potentially preventing either from winning an outright majority.

The campaign has not gone smoothly for Ukip.

Having won European elections in Britain in 2014 and poached two of Mr Cameron’s MPs, its support has fallen in 2015 from 23 per cent in one opinion poll in January to as low as 10 per cent this month.

Polls published in the last couple of days show its support stabilising, and a Survation poll released on Thursday also put Mr Farage nine percentage points ahead of his closest rival to win his own seat in South Thanet, southern England, giving him a boost.

Mr Farage said he was getting hospital treatment twice a week for his back pain and said he now felt in a stronger position to lead his party, which wants Britain to quit the European Union and slash immigration.

“I am taking a few tablets but it is something I have got to live with and I have got to pace myself,” he said.

“I ... am now feeling back to the old me.”

Reuters