British market towns and cities “have become far more divided communities” because of large scale immigration over the past 15 years, Nigel Farage has said.
The UK Independence Party leader echoed the views of some of his councillors who said large-scale immigration had had a negative effect on Britain.
A survey of UKIP councillors for the BBC’s Sunday Politics found that 76 per cent believing immigration has had a negative impact on Britain over the last 30 years.
Challenged about the findings, Mr Farage said: “I think that what has happened to Britain since 1997 with totally frankly unrestricted immigration has had a negative effect on society.
“You know, we have one million of our youngsters now out of work and yet we’re prepared to open up the doors next January to the whole of Bulgaria and Romania – that doesn’t make sense.
“I think British market towns and cities have become far more divided communities over the course of the last 15 years than they were before and I’m sorry about that.”
Mr Farage said that Ukip’s views on immigration were “plain common sense”, rather than right-wing. The study by ComRes found that before supporting Ukip, 70 per cent of the councillors had previously voted Conservative.
It also found that more than two thirds of Ukip councillors supported the death penalty for murder of a police officer and children.
ComRes interviewed 101 UKIP Councillors in England and Wales between June 28 June and July 3.
The news came as a report from a left of centre think-tank found that Euro-scepticism is concentrated most heavily among those with a stronger sense of English national identity.
The Institute for Public Policy Research report said the main political parties had not done enough to address the growing importance of the politics of English nationhood.
It found that most English people now believe that Ukip is the party that is best placed to ‘stand up for English interests’.
Nick Pearce, the IPPR’s director, said: “Our mainstream political parties need to embrace Englishness, take it seriously, and find new ways of giving it political expression.
“Labour and progressive politics need to recognise that Englishness is not something to be feared or abandoned to those on the margins of right wing politics.
“But the longer this debate is ignored, or worse, denied, the more likely we will see a backlash within England against the UK.”
Mr Farage also said it would be “slightly ridiculous” to exclude UKIP from the leadership debates in the 2015 general election if it had won the European elections in the year before.
“I know everybody is talking about the general election and what may or may not happen, but I would like to remind viewers that on May 22 next year, we have a national election, we have a European election – every single one of us is entitled to vote – and we also on that day have over 5,000 council seats up for grabs.
“If UKIP is able on May 22 to win the European elections, then I think keeping us out of the pre-election debates in 2015 would look slightly ridiculous.”