“I have to confess I do have a slight preference. I do think, naturally, that people from India and Australia are in some ways more likely to speak English, understand common law and have a connection with this country than some people that come perhaps from countries that haven’t fully recovered from being behind the iron curtain.”
This was Nigel Farage speaking on BBC1’s Newsnight last year in the run up to the 2015 General Election.
It has consistently been one of his main arguments over the years and throughout the Referendum campaign that immigrants coming from Commonwealth nations are better than migrants coming from certain countries within the EU, namely Eastern Europe.
Farage and Vote Leave apply the same argument to trade, arguing that by leaving we could build closer ties to our Commonwealth family.
Anything but the EU is their mind-boggling answer.
Admittedly, Britain does shares closer links culturally and historically to many of our former colonies, but the UKIP leader’s argument is still a flawed one.
One of these is that by being a member of the European Union, the UK therefore has zero control over who can enter our country or that there is an endless flow of migrants allowed in.
Immigration is a sole policy area of the British Government - it has nothing to do with the EU.
As it happens, EU-wide immigration rules do not apply to the UK. In actual fact, we choose, on a case-by-case basis, whether or not to adopt EU rules on immigration, visa and asylum policies.
Nor is Britain part of the Schengen Area, meaning that people of countries that are in it cannot just come and go as they please, like UKIP argues.
We have the final say on who comes into our country. We have control of our borders. It is as simple as that, so by declaring that leaving the EU and taking a preference of Commonwealth immigrants is some kind panacea, is madness.
Farage and Vote Leave’s Australian “points-based” immigration system is far from perfect too.
Just yesterday the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, went on record saying: “It would be unavoidable and inevitable for us and I think for many of us in Europe, to follow the same proposals...to implement a points system all throughout the European Union...you would get a race to the bottom. And that’s exactly what you don’t want”
Migration Watch even savaged the system as being “totally unsuitable for the UK”, pointing out that Australia has twice as many migrants per head as us.
What works for them, won’t necessarily work for us.
Even if you think of the Commonwealth v EU argument from a more basic perspective, it still does not make sense.
Countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, none of them are our immediate geographical neighbours.
In the age of globalisation, where distance may not be as much of an obstacle as before, trade with Europe is still far more logical and easier than trade with our former colonies.
To also walk away from the tremendous opportunities presented by leading the agenda to create a Digital Single Market, in the largest trading block in the world, simply defies the natural instinct of a country intent on creating and seizing new ground for its business community.
And this doesn’t even begin to start on the free market access that we would be forfeiting if we left the EU.
We do not gain access to the Single Market by leaving and prioritising trade with Commonwealth countries.
Vote ‘Remain’ and we do.
There is so much at stake in this month’s Referendum.
Regardless of the outcome, the shockwaves will be felt for generations to come.
Don’t let Farage and Vote Leave convince you that the European Union is the root cause of increased immigration in our country and don’t let them persuade you that they have the solution with a system that is so obviously unsuited to our nation.