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'Use HS2 cash to modernise rail'

Ukip leader Nigel Farage today criticised plans to link London to the north by high-speed rail as "environmental degradation" as he unveiled the party's policy to scrap HS2.

He pledged to instead invest money in improving existing railways as he unveiled a campaign poster showing a rail track lined with gold bars and claimed the £70 billion cost of the project was money the UK did not have.

Mr Farage said: "Penzance is five hours 11 minutes from Paddington. It was quicker to get to Penzance before the First World War.

"For a fraction of the money that the Government intends to spend on HS2, we can update, modernise railway lines around the country for the benefit of millions of people."

Mr Farage also addressed concerns that his party planned to scrap race relations law during a visit to Wendover, Bucks, saying "we treat everyone in UKIP equally".

A Channel 4 interview surfaced yesterday appearing to show Mr Farage claiming UKIP would abolish existing racial discrimination laws, a comment he claimed had been misunderstood.

He said: "What Trevor Phillips said was that 'in UKIP land would there be race relations law?', and I said 'no, as a party we're colour blind'.

"What I meant was when we select our candidates, we don't have female quotas or black shortlists, we treat everyone in UKIP equally.

"It was pounced upon by other party leaders to say derogatory things about me."

Chancellor George Osborne's plans to create a northern economic powerhouse would not require a high-speed railway, Mr Farage stated.

He said: "The journey time from Paris to Marseilles used to be six hours, but with the TGV being built, Marseilles was three hours away.

"What we saw wasn't more businesses moving to Marseilles, we saw companies in Marseilles headquartering in Paris."

He went on to say that he actually quite enjoyed his two-hour journey to Manchester from London.

He said: "I can use that two hours to have a reasonable breakfast, do some work and have a beer on the way home.

"Manchester may even lose business to London."

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