Free university, cannabis, replacing the Tories: Nigel Farage answers your questions

Watch Nigel Farage answer questions from social media users in interview with politics reporter Lewis Denison

Nigel Farage has said he would remove university tuition fees if he won power, but not for people wanting to study creative subjects.

Reform UK's leader - whose General Election campaign has been described as a "free hit" because he has little to lose and will never have to enact his manifesto - has made numerous pledges in the past few weeks that have been criticised as unfunded.

The latest, made in an interview with ITV News, is that university should be free for people studying subjects like maths, science and engineering.

Farage, whose party has surged in the polls since he took over a few days into the campaign, has encouraged people to "vote with their hearts", admitting voting Reform "won't affect the result hugely".

"But it will mean there's a real voice of opposition," he hopes. However, he needs to get elected in order to achieve his goal of replacing the Conservatives on the opposing front benches in Parliament.

The right-wing politician was the latest to speak to ITV News' social media team, answering questions sent to us by TikTok and Instagram users.

Leaders of the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party and the Greens have also already answered questions from our followers.

We'll be doing the same with Sir Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak before the election on July 4 - follow @itvpolitics on Instagram and TikTok to get involved.

Free university tuition

University was free across the UK until 1998, when Tony Blair's Labour government required students to pay £1,000 a year for tuition.

The cost of higher education has increased significantly since then, although it remains free in Scotland, with students in the rest of the UK now paying £9,000 a year.

Farage told ITV News he thinks university should be free - but there's a catch.

"I wouldn't charge anyone tuition fees at university if they were studying science, technology, engineering, medicine or maths," he said.

"For the rest, folks, too many of you are going university. You're coming out with massive debt wrapped around your necks.

"You'd have been better off learning trades and skills and very quickly earning real dough."

The implication is that people should have to pay if they want to study other subjects, such as those in the creative sector.

Farage has also pledged to scrap interest on student loans and create two-year university courses.

How dangerous is the relationship between Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un?

Pictures of two of the most infamous dictators shaking hands in North Korea sent a wave of worry around the Western world.

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited North Korea and signed a new partnership deal with Kim Jong Un. The pair agreed a vow of mutual assistance if either is attacked.

Farage said the UK response should be to improve its defensive and offensive capabilities by boosting army numbers.

The Reform leader, who recently urged Ukraine to negotiate with Putin and described him as a "clever political operator", said there should be concern about dictators around the world joining forces.

He said: "I think Vladimir Putin being with Kim Jong Un, but more significantly, getting close to President Xi of China, there is an alliance of nations building up against us."

"We need a lot more young people going into the Army, the Air Force and the Navy," he added. "We need a strong we need a strong military to keep the peace."

Illegal drug reform

Farage says the UK needs Reform, but the 60-year-old has changed his mind on the idea of drug reform, particularly cannabis.

It is currently a Class B illegal drug, meaning someone convicted of possession could end up in jail for five years.

A majority of US states have now legalised the drug either entirely or for medical use.

In 2018, the UK allowed doctors to prescribe medicinal products using cannabis compounds but they are heavily restricted.

Farage explained he previously thought a royal commission (a major inquiry appointed to investigate a particular issue) should be requested "to see whether we should decriminalise cannabis".

"And yet I look at America and states where we have decriminalised cannabis, or drugs that are even stronger, and it hasn't really made much difference."

"And to be honest with you, the law's the law, it's not being enforced anyway. All I would say is cannabis does more long term harm than most people realise."

Can he capitalise on opinion polls at the election?

Farage has declared his ambition for Reform UK to replace the Conservatives as the biggest right wing party in Parliament, and believes he could soon be leader of the opposition.

His confidence is in part down to favourable opinion polls, a number of which have put his party's support higher than that of the Tory party.

One poll, by People Polling, said Reform had 24%, significantly higher than Conservatives' 15%.

But, the amount of support a party receives across the country does not always translate to the number of seats they get in Parliament.

Reform's support is spread more evenly across the country, so its seats are unlikely to reach double digits, despite it being likely to receive millions of votes.

Those millions of votes are expected to heavily impact the Conservatives, because Reform is more likely to take support from the right rather than the left.

"The polls show the Tories are going to be wiped out," Mr Farage said, "the election's over. Labour have won. The Tories have lost. I think the general public are now beginning to get that."

He said the expectation of a Labour victory can "benefit Reform UK enormously" because it "gives people the freedom to vote with their hearts".

"It's almost like a European election now. If you really like me, you can vote for me. It won't affect the result hugely, but it will mean there's a real voice of opposition."

An average of all polls that were carried out wholly or partly during the seven days to June 20 puts Labour on 41%, 20 points ahead of the Conservatives on 21%, followed by Reform on 16%, the Lib Dems on 11% and the Greens on 5%.

Have you heard our podcast Talking Politics? Every day in the run-up to the election Tom, Robert and Anushka dig into the biggest issues dominating the political agenda…