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Nigel Farage denies immigration policy U-turn

Ukip's leader Nigel Farage today denied he'd made a U-turn, after dropping proposals to impose a cap on immigration.

He said Ukip would instead campaign on controlling immigrant numbers with an Australian-style points system.

ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener reports

Farage 'concerned' Ukip being perceived as prejudiced

Nigel Farage admitted he was "concerned" that Ukip was being perceived as prejudiced after announcing the party's immigration policy.

"I don't want this party to be perceived as anything other than an open, inclusive political party, which without doubt it is," he said following a speech in central London.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage announces the party's immigration policy. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

"I want to live in a country that is at ease with itself, where we speak the same language ... where our kids can play football with each other, and we all get on," Farage said.

He also insisted there had been "no softening" of Ukip's approach on immigration, calling it "firm but fair".

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Farage promises 'common sense' immigration approach

Nigel Farage has promised a "common sense" approach to immigration after dropping proposals to introduce a 50,000 cap on net migration.

The Ukip leader said he would restore "sanity" by introducing an Australian-style points-based system to control who would be allowed to settle in the UK and take back control of the borders by leaving the European Union.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage unveils the party's immigration policy. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Farage claimed that under the plan, 27,000 people would have been granted entry to Britain last year and it was "very unlikely that we would need 50,000 people".

"We as a party hold no prejudice against anyone on the grounds of their nationality, their religion or their race," He told an audience in central London. "But we are calling for a return to sanity."

Farage wants to bring immigration 'back to normality'

Nigel Farage said he wants to bring immigration into Britain "back to normality," with numbers similar to those seen before 2000.

"Net migration into Britain varied between about 20,000 and 50,000 a year," the Ukip leader told Good Morning Britain.

"The effect of Ukip policies will be to bring us back to those sort of numbers," he said.

"What we're pushing here represents a drastic cut."

Farage outlines 'ethical' Ukip immigration plans

Ukip will unveil its immigration policy today. Credit: Nick Ansell/PA

Nigel Farage has pledged that Ukip would impose an "ethical" visa system if the party took power, as he ruled out any "arbitrary targets" on immigration.

The eurosceptic leader, who will today unveil his party's immigration policy, wrote in the Telegraph that his party did not want to "stigmatise" immigrants.

However, he wrote that he would propose a migration control commission and abolish rules discriminating between EU and non-EU nationals.

Farage added that Ukip's proposals would include a points-based system for visas, as seen in Australia, with the aim to bring down migration levels that were "unsustainable, unfair and unethical".

He also said there would be a five-year block on visas for unskilled workers, barring them from claiming benefits during that time.

Farage hints another Tory MP could defect to Ukip

Nigel Farage has hinted there is still a chance that another Conservative MP could defect to Ukip before the General Election.

Asked in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph (£) whether he was in discussions with any Tory MPs, Farage said: "The last time I spoke about this I said I would be surprised if there were not more.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage. Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

"There is one conversation we are still having. But do you know what - it is not very relevant now. Last year it was a big deal."

Unlike Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless - who both triggered and won by-elections - a Tory jumping ship now would be likely to hold on to their seat until the General Election in May.

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Former Tory Douglas Carswell takes Ukip centre stage

Credit: Reuters

Douglas Carswell is expected to urge Ukip activists to break the "Tory-Labour power cartel" in May's General Election.

The Conservative defector, who triggered and won a by-election in his Clacton-on-Sea seat, will set out his blueprint for political reform and reconnecting with voters at the Ukip spring conference later today.

Mr Carswell is the highest-profile speaker on the second day of the Ukip conference at the Winter Gardens in Margate, Kent.

Ukip: Migrants putting strain on UK's sewerage system

Ukip's immigration spokesman Steven Woolfe gave a speech at the party's conference. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Britain's sewerage system is struggling to cope with the influx of migrants, a senior Ukip figure has warned.

Immigration spokesman Steven Woolfe raised the issue as he listed elements of infrastructure that were under pressure because of immigration during his speech to the party's pre-election conference.

Mr Woolfe insisted the public did not care about "colour of skin or race or creed".

He added: "What they are concerned about is that our eye has been taken off the ball for nearly a generation," he told the audience in Margate.

"Schools are now full, hospitals are troubled, healthcare - it is very difficult to be seen in many areas of this country.

"Roads need to be built, we need to look at the way we feed ourselves because of our growing population.

"What about our water and sewage systems? All of these matter."

Farage: Ukip is on the way to winning Thanet South

Ukip leader Nigel Farage is addressing the party's Spring conference in Margate. Credit: Pool

Ukip leader Nigel Farage claimed the party is on its way to winning the Conservative seat of Thanet South as polls showed him holding a wide margin over his opponents.

Mr Farage also accused Labour and the Conservatives of indulging in negative campaigning and insisted his party would focus "on the politics of hope and inspiration".

He added that immigration was the topic dominating the election and Ukip was the only party which could regain control of Britain's borders.

Mr Farage was addressing the party's Spring conference in Margate.

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