General election - latest: Home secretary slams Farage over claiming the West provoked Ukraine invasion

Home Secretary James Cleverly has slammed Nigel Farage after he claimed western governments had “provoked” Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Appearing on a special election BBC Panorama show, Mr Farage was asked by Nick Robinson if he still believed the Russian advancement was a result of EU and NATO expansion.

The Reform UK leader, a former member of the European Parliament, said: “I stood up in the European Parliament in 2014 and I said, and I quote, ‘there will be a war in Ukraine’.

“Why did I say that? It was obvious to me that the ever-eastward expansion of Nato and the European Union was giving this man a reason to his Russian people to say ‘they’re coming for us again’ and to go to war.”

In response, Mr Cleverly posted a clip of the interview on X, writing: “Just Farage echoing Putin’s vile justification for the brutal invasion of Ukraine.”

Mr Farage also told Mr Robinson that Brexit was not a failure, but that the Tory party had failed to deliver on immigration. He also said “it makes sense” for patients to pay their GP and claim the money back afterwards.

Mr Farage’s appearance on the BBC came after the latest polling analysis by Savanta and Electoral Calculus predicted his party would win no seats in 4 July.

Key Points

  • Main points from Farage interview

  • Home Secretary slams Farage over Ukraine war claim

  • ‘“I’m a fighter, I’m a warrior’ - Farage

  • West provoked invasion of Ukraine – Farage

  • Sunak dodges questions on scale of betting scandal

Johnny Mercer urged to apologise

20:47 , Alex Ross

Away from tonight’s Panorama with Nigel Farage, Johnny Mercer has been urged to apologise for accusing his Labourgeneral election rival of lying about his military service and withdraw the “deeply disrespectful” remarks.

The veterans minister, who is standing for re-election in Plymouth, Moor View, has been widely condemned for suggesting former Royal Marine Fred Thomas lied about leading men into combat to boost his political career.

Mr Thomas has said he is unable to discuss large parts of his military service and cited a certificate of valediction signed by a Special Forces Support Group commanding officer.

Mercer urged to apologise for accusing Labour rival of lying about military service

Home Secretary slams Farage over Ukraine war claim

20:10 , Alex Ross

During his interview with Nick Robinson, Nigel Farage claimed the West provoked the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

He said: “It was obvious to me that the ever-eastward expansion of Nato and the European Union was giving this man a reason to his Russian people to say ‘they’re coming for us again’ and to go to war.”

The comments have been met by outrage by Home Secretary James Cleverly.

Writing on X, he said: “Just Farage echoing Putin’s vile justification for the brutal invasion of Ukraine.”

Main points from Farage interview

20:07 , Alex Ross

Mr Farage made the following points during the half-hour interview from Nick Robinson:

  • Repeated his accusation that Rishi Sunak “doesn’t understand our culture”

  • Claimed western governments “provoked” Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022

  • “It makes sense” for patients to pay their GP and claim the money back afterwards

  • Said Brexit was not a failure, but the Tories had failed to deliver promise in immigration

  • Blamed vetting company for not doing its job on checking candidates

  • Described himself as a “fighter” and “warrior”

The Reform UK leader making his points during the 30-minute interview with Nick Robinson (PA Media)
The Reform UK leader making his points during the 30-minute interview with Nick Robinson (PA Media)

‘“I’m a fighter, I’m a warrior’ - Farage

19:31 , Alex Ross

“I’m a fighter, I’m a warrior, I’m a campaigner. I stand up against big institutions when they behave badly, whether they’re banks or out of touch bureaucracies based in Brussels, and very often, I win,” says Nigel Farage as he’s asked if he is the man to restor trust in British politics.

Nick Robinson then curtains the show. He next interviews Green Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay.

Vetting company didn’t do the job - Farage

19:29 , Alex Ross

Nick Robinson now asks Nigel Farage about some of the Reform UK candidates.

He starts by saying how a candidate that claims Africans have a low IQ rally to his cause.

“We’ve also had an awful lot of candidates being stitched up in the most extraordinary way with quotes being taken out of context,” Mr Farage replies.

He adds that a “big vetting company” didn’t do its job on checking candidates.

‘No, no, no, no, no’ - Farage

19:26 , Alex Ross

Farage denies he said climate change was a hype.

He says the country spends “too much time hyperventilating’ over climate change, but says he is not arguing with the science.

He adds: Right, listen, we’ve deindustrialized.

“Our steelworks close, where do they go? India. The same steel gets produced in India under lower environmental standards and then shipped back to us. Globally by closing those steel plants, the amount of CO2 put into the air has gone up. All we’ve done is to export the emissions.”

‘All we’ve done is to export the emissions’ - Farage (PA Media)
‘All we’ve done is to export the emissions’ - Farage (PA Media)

‘I still don’t know where the money is coming from’ - Robinson

19:24 , Alex Ross

Nigel Farage now being scrutinising over the figures in Reform UK’s manifesto.

Nick Robinson says they are “nonsense”.

Mr Farage says: “I’ll tell you what is nonsense, real nonsense, the Labour and Conservative net zero policies.”

He adds the the UK can save £30bn a year by abolishing the net zero commitment for 2050.

Who can come into this country?

19:19 , Alex Ross

Nick Robinson asks who is allowed to come into the country under Reform UK’s policy for net zero immigration.

“L et’s go through, paramedics, midwives, pharmacists, carers for the elderly, they can all come in,” he asks.

Mr Farage responds: “Of course they can come in.”

He goes on to talk about students coming in, claiming they have brought with them 125,000 dependants.

If you put me in charge it’d be very, very different - Farage

19:16 , Alex Ross

Nick Robinson and Nigel Farage talk over Brexit, and its impact on immigration and the economy.

Mr Robinson says his cab driver to the show told him: “You tell Nigel, I voted leave and I regret it, because people like me are no better off.”

“I’m afraid that is what the Conservatives have done with it,” Mr Farage responds.

He adds: “If you put me in charge it’d be very, very different, but of course they didn’t do that did they.”

‘If you put me in charge it’d be very, very different’ - Farage (PA)
‘If you put me in charge it’d be very, very different’ - Farage (PA)

‘On your tombstone is would say ‘the man who brought us Brexit’ – Robinson

19:13 , Alex Ross

Nick Robinson turns the conversation to Brexit, asking Mr Farage if it was a failure.

Mr Farage responds: “No, it’s not a failure, but we failed to deliver. It can’t be a failure, we’ve left the European Union, we’re now self-governing; the question is then, what do you do with it.”

West provoked invasion of Ukraine – Farage

19:09 , Alex Ross

Nick Robinson asks if the West provoked the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

Nigel Farage says: “Yes, and very interestingly, once again, 10 years ago when I predicted this – by the way, I’m the only person in British politics that predicted what would happen, and of course everyone said I was a pariah for daring to suggest it.

“George Robertson, former Labour cabinet minister, who went on to become the Secretary General of NATO has in the last couple of weeks said the war is a direct result of the EU expansion.”

The Reform UK leader says the West provoked the Ukraine invasion (PA Media)
The Reform UK leader says the West provoked the Ukraine invasion (PA Media)

Admiration for Putin

19:08 , Alex Ross

Nick Robinson puts to Nigel Farage that he admired Vladimir Putin. Mr Farage responds by saying he admired the Russian leader as a political operator for managing to take control of the running of the country.

He adds that this was before the seizure of Crimea.

‘Voice of opposition to Labour’

19:08 , Alex Ross

Nigel Farage says he, rather than a divided Conservative party will be the voice of opposition to a Labour government with a big majority.

He says: “Well, there isn’t a right of British politics, it’s gone, disappeared. I mean we’ve had 14 years of Conservative government, they may as well change their name to the SDP.

“It’s been high tax, big state, more control of our lives, damaging period for the 5 and a half million men and women running small businesses, they’ve not even been vaguely Conservative, low tax, free market.”

Tory wipeout

19:04 , Alex Ross

Nick Robinson begins by congratulating Nigel Farage on playing his party in a projected wipeout for the Tory party according to latest polls, adding it could produce “the greatest Labour majority in history”.

Mr Farage swerves the question on if it gives him please.

Nick Robinson sets the scene

19:04 , Alex Ross

We’re underway.

Like with all party leaders interviewed for the series, Nick Robinson tells Nigel Farage that he is asking questions on issues that people are telling the BBC are important to them.

“I just ask you to try and answer the questions, but to be clear you don’t know the questions before I put them to you,” he says.

 (PA)
(PA)

West provoked Russia into Ukraine invasion

19:03 , Alex Ross

Nigel Farage will claim the West “provoked” Russia into its deadly invasion of Ukraine two years ago.

The Reform UK leader will say the European Union’s expansion as well as Nato had provided Vladimir Putin with an “excuse”.

His incendiary comments will come in his interview with Nick Robinsom less than two weeks before voters go to the polls.

They are likely to prompt an angry backlash from politicians across the spectrum, who have supported Ukraine as it attempts to fight off the Russians.

West ‘provoked’ Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Nigel Farage claims

Coming up: Nigel Farage faces BBC’s Nick Robinson in Panorama interview

18:45 , Salma Ouaguira

The Reform UK leader is the next to be interviewed by Nick Robinson as part of the BBC special Panorama interview series.

The show is expected to start soon and we’ll bring you all the updates live.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Join The Independent WhatsApp Community for free

18:40 , Salma Ouaguira

The Independent has launched a brand new WhatsApp Community, bringing you the latest news on the General Election as the campaign unfolds.

Never miss a big story as our dedicated politics team will keep you informed on the latest breaking news, exclusive features, gripping interviews and must-watch videos.

You can expect breaking news alerts, exclusive poll results and campaign updates, cutting-edge opinion from our commentators and Premium news analysis from our award-winning journalists.

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Windrush campaigners’ citizenship demand for new government

18:20 , Salma Ouaguira

Campaigners are demanding citizenship to be granted for all families affected by the Home Office’s Windrush scandal within the first 100 days of the new government, our Race Correspondent Nadine White reports.

Ahead of Windrush Day celebrations on Saturday, a coalition of anti-racism charities and groups has unveiled a “Home Office scandal manifesto”, outlining key demands for new ministers after the 4 July general election.

The Manifesto for Windrush Justice is calling for the government to give British citizenship and waive passport fees for everyone affected by the Windrush scandal who arrived before 1 January 1973 and their children, as well as an amnesty for Commonwealth citizens who have lived in the UK for more than 30 years.

Campaigners say a significant backlog exists in the Windrush documentation scheme and that the government’s own estimates suggest more than 50,000 people may be eligible.

You can read The Independent full story here

What happened this week in the UK election campaign, from a betting controversy to Farage's ambition

18:00 , Salma Ouaguira

What happened this week in the UK election campaign, from a betting controversy to Farage's ambition

17:45 , Salma Ouaguira

Cleverly says Farage shouldn’t be allowed into the Tories

17:35 , Salma Ouaguira

James Creverly claimed Nigel Farage shouldn’t be welcomed into the Conservatives as he would “destroy” the party.

The Cabinet minster told The Times: “Imagine someone said ‘I want to destroy Arsenal. I want to rip down the Emirates. I want to destroy everything that you stand for. Oh, and what are your thoughts on me playing for Arsenal?’ Well no.”

The Home Secretary added: “Why don’t you ask me if I would embrace George Galloway into the party? He’s not a member of my party. He doesn’t share my party’s interests and he’s been very explicit that he wants to destroy my party.”

“Let’s take it away from politics. We are all watching football at the moment. I’m an Arsenal fan. Imagine someone said, ‘I want to destroy Arsenal as a football club. I want to rip down the Emirates. I want to destroy everything that you stand for. Oh, and by the way, what are your thoughts on me playing for Arsenal?’ Well no.”

17:30 , Salma Ouaguira

What are the rules and law behind the Tory party election-betting scandal?

17:20 , Salma Ouaguira

Rishi Sunak’s election campaign was dealt another blow on Thursday after it emerged that a second Conservative Party candidate was being investigated over a bet on the date of the general election.

Using confidential information to gain an unfair advantage when betting may constitute a criminal offence.

Section 42 of the Gambling Act. gamblers are not allowed to use inside information to place a bet or to instruct someone else to do so on their behalf.

The offence can carry a prison sentence of up to two years.

Nigel Farage has been condemned for saying Andrew Tate praise

17:15 , Alex Ross

Nigel Farage has been condemned for saying Andrew Tate is an “important voice for men”.

The Reform UK leader claimed the online influencer had raised awareness of “men becoming feminine” and stood up for their ability to “be a bloke”.

Tate has been facing charges since December 2022 of rape, human trafficking and forming a criminal gang to sexually exploit women, all of which he denies.

Farage condemned for saying influencer Andrew Tate is ‘important voice for men’

Terror attack survivors urge politicians to make pledges for victims

17:10 , Salma Ouaguira

Terror attack survivors urge politicians to make clear pledges for victims

Reeves being advised by Gordon Brown and George Osborne

17:00 , Salma Ouaguira

Rachel Reeves has revealed she is receiving advice form former Labour leader Gordon Brown and George Osborne on becoming chancellor.

The shadow chancellor said she is also “very good friends” with Alastair Darling and his wife.

She told Times Radio: “But look, it’s always useful to seek advice and talk to people that have done a similar thing.

“There aren’t many people who have held the role of Chancellor of the Exchequer. I was very good friends with Alastair Darling, who died last year, the last Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I spent a lot of time talking to Alistair and also his wife Maggie about what the role entailed and I was very lucky to have that friendship with them.

“Gordon and George have also both given me advice, and that is useful.”

She added: “One thing that [Mr Osborne] and other people have said to me is that actually, when you go in from opposition, especially when you’ve done the job in opposition for quite a while, you go in with a very clear idea of what you want to achieve.

“And Gordon Brown, George Osborne and myself have all had, doesn’t feel like a luxury, I must say, at times, but have had that time in opposition to think very clearly and deeply about what we wanted to achieve as chancellor.”

Rachel Reeves, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and First Minister of Wales, Vaughan Gething attend the Welsh Labour manifesto launch at the Llay Miners Institute (Getty Images)
Rachel Reeves, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer and First Minister of Wales, Vaughan Gething attend the Welsh Labour manifesto launch at the Llay Miners Institute (Getty Images)

Reform receives 2.5 times more money than Tories and Labour gets 75% of all donations

16:40 , Salma Ouaguira

The latest data from the Electoral Commission has been published and it is not looking good for Rishi Sunak.

According to official figures, Nigel Farage scooped £742,000 in donations compared to only £292,000 of the Conservatives.

A large amount of the money donated to Reform came from one donor, party chairman Richard Tice, who gave £500,000. The party has seen a rise donors during the second week of the election campaign.

Labour is leading the list with over £4.3m of the £5.8m total donations.

This is how the numbers compare to the first week of the campaign:

Electoral Commission data on party donations from May 30 to June 5 2024 (Electoral Commission)
Electoral Commission data on party donations from May 30 to June 5 2024 (Electoral Commission)

VOICES John Rentoul: Who’d have thought ‘stuntman’ Ed Davey could be the next leader of the opposition?

16:30 , Salma Ouaguira

Who’d have thought ‘stuntman’ Ed Davey could be the next leader of the opposition?

Cleverly: It would be ‘daft’ to ignore the polls

16:20 , Salma Ouaguira

James Cleverly has admitted it would be “daft” to “completely ignore” the polls, which indicate a landslide majority for Labour.

In an interview with The Times, Mr Cleverly said: “We’d be daft to look at the opinion polls and just completely ignore them. But I talk to people on the doorstep and there is no affection for Labour at all.

“There’s frustration in parts with us. We’ve had a good record, but it’s been tough headwinds. I don’t think Labour have sealed the deal.”

“Am I going to stop campaigning and just spend the rest of the campaign watching the football? What am I supposed to do, other than continuing to do what I was going to do anyway, which is taking the Conservative message to voters, highlighting the deficiencies in the Labour position? We have agency.”

 (PA Wire)
(PA Wire)

Rishi Sunak repeated ‘incredibly angry’ line but refused to say candidates will be suspended

16:10 , Salma Ouaguira

Rish repeated the line that he is “incredibly angry” about the Tory election betting scandal.

But the prime minister said there is “not much more I can add to what I said previously”

He told an audience in Wales: “There are multiple investigations that are currently happening. It’s right that those investigations are allowed to proceed. they are independent, they are necessarily confidential, as you will appreciate.

“There’s also a criminal investigation and these are potentially criminal matters. and the police are conducting those you’ll be aware of that and because of that, I hope you can appreciate there’s not much more I can add what I can tell you is, as I said, If anyone is found to have broken the rules, they should not only face the full consequences of the law when I will ensure that they are booted out of the conservative party too.”

VAT on private school fees will not come in until 2025, Reeves says

15:55 , Salma Ouaguira

Labour’s VAT on private school fees would not come in until 2025, Rachel Reeves says

Lib Dems receive £335,000 in the second week of the campaign

15:50 , Jabed Ahmed

The Liberal Democrats have received £335,000 in the second week of the campaign, taking their total for the election to £789,999 in donations.

This included another £150,000 from businessman Safwan Adam and a £100,000 bequest from John Faulkner, a long-standing party member who left the party £1 million in his will in 2023.

Reform UK raise £742,000 in the second week of campaign

15:49 , Jabed Ahmed

Reform UK have raised £742,000 in the second week of the campaign, largely thanks to a £500,000 donation from Britain Means Business Ltd, a company controlled by party chairman Richard Tice.

The party also received £50,000 from former pop star and Neighbours actor Holly Valance, who hosted a fundraising event for former US president Donald Trump in London two weeks after his conviction for falsifying business records.

It had been reported that Reform had received £1.5 million since Nigel Farage declared he would stand as a candidate in Clacton.

But the figures released on Friday show the party had raised £882,000 in major donations during the first two weeks of the campaign – only just below the figure received by the Conservatives.

Tories raised less than £1 million in first two weeks of campaign

15:45 , Jabed Ahmed

The Conservatives raised less than £300,000 in the second week of the election as the party’s campaign continued to falter.

Figures from the Electoral Commission released on Friday show the party raised just £292,500 between June 6 and 12, taking its total donations for the campaign to £889,000.

That figure is significantly below the £8.7 million the Tories raised in the first two weeks of the 2019 campaign.

In contrast, Labour raised £4.4 million in the second week of the election thanks in part to a £2.5 million donation from former supermarket boss Lord David Sainsbury.

Lib Dems urge Sunak to take ‘tougher action’ over probed Tories

15:45 , Salma Ouaguira

The Lib Dem leader has said that Rishi Sunak should be taking “tougher action” on Tory candidates probed over election date betting claims.

Sir Ed Davey said: “Too often in this parliament we have seen members of the Conservative party looking like they’re in it for themselves, not for public service and what’s in the best interests of the country.”

Tories ‘held in contempt by the electorate’ as pressure mounts on Rishi Sunak over betting scandal

15:40 , Jabed Ahmed

The Conservatives have been warned they are “held in contempt” by voters as Rishi Sunak failed to deny cabinet ministers were among senior Tories to place bets on the date of the election.

As pressure mounts on the prime minister over the Downing Street betting scandalDominic Grieve, the former Tory attorney general, said the party was getting what “they deserve” after years of chaos.

Paul Scully, a former Tory minister, described it as a “punishment election” for the party, that the outcry over gambling allegations would exacerbate.

Read the full article:

Tories ‘held in contempt’ by voters as pressure mounts over betting scandal

‘Total lack of leadership’ - Starmer on Sunak

21:08 , Alex Ross

Sir Keir Starmer accused Mr Sunak of a “total lack of leadership” over his decision not to suspend two candidates caught up in a betting row.

He said: “Of course he should suspend these candidates. If they were my candidates, they’d be gone by now, out of the door. He needs to take tough action. He’s not even saying today whether there are more involved.”

Craig Williams, the Tory party’s candidate in Montgomeryshire and Glyndwr, admitted to having a bet on the date of the election.

Another candidate, Laura Saunders for Bristol North West, it’s been reported is also facing a Gambling Commission investigation.