Ethnic minorities 'feeling strain' of EU migration system, says Ukip MEP


Ethnic minority voters are "feeling the strain" of migration from the European Union and campaigners for a British exit should seek their support, Ukip's migration spokesman has claimed.

Steven Woolf, who is of mixed race, said minority communities saw the EU as something that "damages" freedom and security.

The MEP said his party leader, Nigel Farage, should be part of a "dream team" of leading players in the Brexit campaign but it would be a "mistake" for him to be the sole figurehead.

Mr Woolf, who will set out his views in a speech to the British Future think-tank, said the organisation's research had highlighted concerns about immigration among ethnic minority voters.

"They want prosperity, they want their culture protected, they want freedom and they also want to be secure. They see the European Union as something that damages that," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

Black, mixed race and Asian communities were "feeling the strain" of the current system, which favours EU citizens over migrants from other countries, he claimed.

"If granny wants to come over from Pakistan or India for a wedding, they have got more difficulties in terms of visas and getting visas than would a granny from either Spain or France.

"If you look at the black community, they are more likely to be struggling on low wages in the low skilled and unskilled areas, and that's the area that has been affected by large-scale migration."

He added: "Most people do see immigration as a positive thing and certainly we in Ukip - if you look at the policies I have developed over time - would actually agree with that. Our argument is that actually it is the European Union that is holding back the freedoms, it is actually the European Union's principle on freedom of movement that is causing the lowering of wages."

Asked about the role Mr Farage would play in the referendum campaign, Mr Woolf said it was important to have a range of leaders capable of reaching the widest possible audience.

"I have always said we should have a dream team of individuals leading the campaign and Nigel should play one of the key roles in that," he said.

"It would be a mistake if anyone was the sole figurehead on this because here we are talking about research from the black, mixed and ethnic community and there are some very strong people in politics ... who are mixed race or black or Asian who have a very strong voice on Europe.

"We have to reach out to everybody and Nigel is a very important part of that group of people that can reach out to those who will win us this referendum."

In his speech to British Future, Mr Woolf, who has a black American grandfather, Jewish grandmother and an Irish grandfather, will say a fairer immigration system which favours arrivals from the Commonwealth over Europeans should be at the heart of the Leave campaign's pitch.

He will say: "If our campaign paints a positive and rational picture of what our border policy will be outside of the EU, we can win over the moderate majority of the black mixed ethnic community of which I am a member.

"The British black, mixed and ethnic community have a crucial role to play in our quest to reclaim our independence - and they will vote leave in their thousands if they believe they are voting for an outward-looking, prosperous and secure future."