Global Politics

An anti-immigration party gains momentum in UK elections

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Credit: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

A supporter poses with his badge before meeting the leader of Britain's United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), Nigel Farage, at a campaign event in South Ockendon, Essex May 23, 2014.

Britain's UK Independence Party made big gains in local council elections on Thursday.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

Party leader Nigel Farage ran on a platform to pull Britain out of the European Union and severely restrict immigration. Farage outlined his views says being part of the EU makes it impossible for Britain to manage inward migration.

"We have an open door to nearly half a billion people ... we want an immigration policy based on controlling not just quantity, but quality as well," he said.

"Nigel Farage is a politician who has a certain, distinctive manner that makes many people see him as an ordinary, regular British guy," said the BBC's Paul Moss, who has been reporting on the rise of UKIP and far-right parties across Europe in general. "He’s often pictured drinking a pint of beer, smoking a cigarette, which is unheard of for most politicians — what we call in Britian, a ‘blokey’ image."

Despite his party having no seats in the British parliament, Farage has led UKIP from a fringe party to become a standard bearer for the Eurosceptic movement across the continent.

"What has really pulled in a lot of votes for Nigel Farage recently, many people would argue, is he has also been very critical of immigration to Britain," said Moss. "He says there’s too many people coming here, both from inside the European Union and from outside. He talks about the lack of jobs in Britain and how British people should be able to do these jobs. And until there are more jobs available we shouldn’t be bringing many foreigners in here."

Farage hopes to win his party's first seat in the British parliament next year.

"We are serious players," Farage said on Friday. "Over the course of this summer we will choose our target constituencies and throw the kitchen sink at them."

Friday's positive results were a vast improvement from the 2010 British general election when Nigel Farage was principally famous because he was injured in a plane crash caused by the plane getting tangled up in a UKIP election banner it was towing.

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