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Farage blames immigrants for delay

Nigel Farage has blamed his failure to turn up to a reception with supporters in Wales on "open-door" immigration.

The Ukip leader said he missed the £25 a head meet-the-leader event in Port Talbot because the population "is going through the roof" and the M4 is "not as navigable as it used to be".

Labour said the comments highlighted why Mr Farage, who was in Wales for the Ukip conference, is "dangerous".

Mr Farage told the BBC's Sunday Politics Wales: "It took me six hours and 15 minutes to get here - it should have taken three-and-a-half to four," he said.

"That is nothing to do with professionalism, what it does have to do with is a population that is going through the roof chiefly because of open-door immigration and the fact that the M4 is not as navigable as it used to be."

Shadow Welsh secretary Owen Smith told the BBC: "Remarks like these are what makes Farage so dangerous.

"It is clearly absurd to suggest heavy traffic on the M4 is caused by immigration, but through the laughter at his silly comments you can hear Ukip's dog-whistle politics of division."

Earlier, a senior Ukip figure has appeared to suggest that Mr Farage is a "control freak" in the way he runs the party.

Patrick O'Flynn said policy decisions were a "sort of collective operation" but Mr Farage is the "dominant figure" in the party.

The economic spokesman announced that Ukip could look at introducing a luxury goods levy - quickly dubbed the Wag tax - at the party's annual conference but was slapped down within hours by the leader.

He told BBC One's Sunday Politics "that one didn't make the cut, no".

Mr O'Flynn added: "It's not just Nigel Farage, but clearly we have a party leader who leads, which is a bit of an innovation in contemporary politics."

He added: "I remember Tony Blair in my days as a journalist saying to me you are either a control freak or you have lost control.

"And, if you have to decide which side of that fence to go on then having control is probably the right option."

Asked if that meant it was the "Nigel Farage show", he replied: "Well, Nigel Farage is the dominant figure in the party who has transformed us from a 3% party to a 18/20 plus party."

Meanwhile, the party has announced it is appointing a veteran BBC political producer to be its director of communications - a position previously held by Mr O'Flynn.

Paul Lambert, nicknamed Gobby, is well known in Westminster for chasing down under-fire politicians and putting them on the spot.

He said: "Over the past few years I have been following the work of Ukip and Nigel Farage and I feel that he is changing British politics for the better.

"I am delighted to be able to add my experience to his team. He has been one of the best, most hard working and most normal political figures I have worked with, and trust me I have seen the lot.

"Ukip is today the place to be if you want to be a part of a party that is changing the face of British politics for the better, and providing a new, clear and honest voice."

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