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Bishop accuses Nigel Farage of ‘scapegoating’ immigrants

Nigel Farage said the children of migrants should be barred from state education for five years (PA)

An English bishop has accused Ukip leader Nigel Farage of “discriminating” against migrants.

Auxiliary Bishop Patrick Lynch of Southwark spoke out after Mr Farage had said that migrants should have to pay for private education for their children for five years after they enter the country.

He admitted it was not a manifesto pledge and was a “difficult” issue, but said: “I think the most important thing is that those that come do have healthcare. That’s really, really important, and on the life-threatening disease stuff, that’s perfectly clear… The dependents thing is much more difficult. But I wouldn’t foresee people coming into Britain immediately being allowed to bring children to go through the state system. Except for very high earners, it wouldn’t be very relevant.”

Responding to the comments, Bishop Lynch said: “Britain has a long, proud and humane tradition of responding to the needs of immigrants’ children. It is proven that education is a key element in integrating diverse communities. I recognise that in some places there are strains on resources, but as a society we need to respond to this rather than scapegoating any one group. I am appalled by any suggestion of discriminating against immigrants.”

Last week, Catholic MEPs Steven Woolfe and Margot Parker met Bishop Lynch and other Church representatives in London.

The encounter came about after Mr Woolfe had told the Catholic Herald that the bishops had not responded to his offer of a meeting. Mr Woolfe said they “were welcomed very warmly” by the bishop.

Ukip is expected to win between 10 and 15 per cent of the vote at the general election in May.

A Ukip spokesman said, Just as the Catholic faith does not depend on the arbitrary whim of every passing Pontiff, so Ukip policy is decided by the National Executive Council, rather in a speculative response to a journalist. The Ukip spokesman on migration is Steven Woolfe and this isn’t part of the policy package. Bishop Lynch can relax.”