UK & World News

  • 31 March 2014, 12:56

Nigel Farage: 'Putin Is Leader I Admire Most'

Nigel Farage has named Russia's Vladimir Putin as the leader he most admires calling his handling of the Syria crisis "brilliant".

The UKIP leader said he liked the Russian president for the way he worked rather than for his political and personal approach.

Mr Farage had significantly less praise for his political opponents in the UK, branding David Cameron as "a perfectly nice fellow who stands four-square for nothing".

He said Ed Miliband was a "nice chap, not very worldly - I would love to see him in a working men's club in Newcastle".

Fresh from his apparent victory over Nick Clegg in a public debate on Britain's membership of the EU, broadcast by LBC Radio and Sky News last week, he said the Lib Dem leader was a "very nice guy, just wrong".

During the debate, Mr Farage said the European Union had "blood on its hands" for encouraging revolution in Ukraine.

The UKIP leader said he did not approve of Mr Putin's annexation of Crimea, but said EU leaders had been "weak and vain". He added: "If you poke the Russian bear with a stick he will respond."

Asked by Tony Blair's former director of communications Alistair Campbell in an interview in GQ magazine which current world leader he most admired, Mr Farage replied: "As an operator, but not as a human being, I would say Putin.

"The way he played the whole Syria thing. Brilliant. Not that I approve of him politically. How many journalists in jail now?"

Mr Putin has been criticised for supplying arms to Bashar al Assad's regime and his attempts to block United Nations moves for sanctions against the Syrian president.

However, the Russian leader was credited with outmanoeuvring the West last year when he brokered a deal for Syria to give up its chemical weapons. 

Speaking at his monthly press conference, Mr Clegg said it was "utterly grotesque" Mr Farage most admired Mr Putin.

Mr Farage was less complimentary about Germany's Angela Merkel saying: "She is incredibly cold. I always say - I agree this is a bit rude - but whatever you think of the public image of Merkel, in private she is even more miserable. I warm to more extrovert people."

On the domestic front he said that there was "absolutely no doubt at all" Mr Cameron had offered a referendum on Britain's EU membership because of pressure on his party from UKIP.

After Mr Miliband recently said he would only offer a referendum on EU membership in the unlikely event Europe attempts a power-grab, the Prime Minister has painted the Tories as the only party that would guarantee a vote on Europe ahead of the 2015 election.

However, this does not make Mr Farage a natural Conservative supporter and when asked who he would like to win the election he said: "I don't care ... If I was back in the London Metal Exchange I'd not give a toss, because 100% of the legislation affecting me is made in Brussels."

Pressed to choose either Mr Cameron or Mr Miliband, Mr Farage said: "Don't give a damn. Ed has come up with some pretty bonkers ideas."

:: Watch a special programme on round two of the EU debate between Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg on Sky News on Wednesday, April 2, from 6.30pm.