Richard North, 30/08/2015  

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If more immigrants come to this country from non-EU states, and the asylum seekers who arrive then claim protection under international law, how can it be said that "immigration and EU membership are synonymous"?

Yet this is precisely what that idiot Farage is saying, writing in the ghastly Breitbart that: "The immigration debate is changing before our eyes, and it's how we win the EU referendum".

His idea of fighting the referendum is to make the public realise that immigration and EU membership are synonymous, based on his strong belief that "open door immigration and security concerns will be the dominant issues in the upcoming referendum campaign".

Reinforcing this "belief" is last month's Ipsos-MORI "leading issues poll" which Farage calls in aid, citing the "staggering eight per cent rise in respondents naming immigration as the number one issue" during the month of July. "Fifty percent", he crows, "said that immigration and border controls was their main concern with the economy trailing behind at 27 percent".

We actually had a look at this poll, and the finding is hardly surprising as the polling company itself noted that migrant camps in Calais continued to dominate sections of the media.

Even then, Farage overstates the finding. There were two parts to this poll, in which the questions were spontaneous - i.e. respondents were not prompted with any answers.

In the first part, respondents were asked to name "the most important issue facing Britain today", whence the percentage nominating "immigration" or "immigrants" actually came out at 32 percent. Only when asked to nominate "the main/other important issues facing Britain" was the figure of 50 percent reached.

In other words, even after a torrent of publicity on the issue, the proportion of people who felt that immigration was their main issue struggled to reach a third of those responding.

Then, from this, there is no indication whatsoever of the proportion of respondents who regard leaving the EU as the solution to the problem – much less the numbers who would be prepared to vote "no" in the referendum because of immigration.

On the other hand, because it is a spontaneous poll, respondents were free to nominate any subject they wish. And there we have an interesting response on the EU. Only two percent regarded this as their most important issue, and only eight percent thought it an important issue at all. Clearly, if people thought that the EU was the main reason for the immigration problem, a higher score would have been recorded.

We have, of course, been here before. When Mr Farage put immigration at the top of the list in the general election, only eight percent of those eligible to vote actually turned out for Ukip. Again to put immigration at the top of the list is more than a mistake. It is insane, a tactic which is almost certain to damage the "no" campaign. Farage is wrong on his facts, is misreading the poll evidence and is making a major tactical blunder.

Sadly, nothing is going to stop this ego on stilts damaging the cause. Farage is already set to mount his roadshow during September, parading his stupidity before his adoring supporters, who will doubtless cheer him to the rafters as support from the general public drains away.

Once again, therefore, we're back in that familiar position of having to distance ourselves from this man and his supporters, making it clear that he does not speak in our name. The man has lost it – he represents only his own stupidity. He should have no part of the "no" campaign.

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