Nigel Farage has told people to stop apologising for Britain’s colonial past because ‘obsessing’ about events 300 years ago is useless.
Pointing to a ‘different world’, the Brexit Party leader railed against the constant dredging up of the country’s imperial history and suggested politicians should instead focus on forging a better future.
His intervention came as Jeremy Corbyn was poised to pledge an inquiry into the country’s colonial-steeped past in Labour’s general election manifesto.
Mr Farage was scathing about the policy, and even suggested the British empire was not as heavy-handed as the conquests of other European nations.
On a campaign trip to Peterborough, he said: ‘I think if we obsess about the past, different times and different cultures, it can be very difficult to move forwards. So I think some of this stuff is just not helpful.
Nigel Farage (pictured in the Queen’s Head pub in Peterborough with candidate Mike Greene) has told people to stop apologising for Britain’s colonial past as ‘obsessing’ about events 300 years ago is pointless
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage during a party rally at the Great Northern Hotel, in Peterborough, where he told supporters instead of dredging up the country’s imperial history, politicians should look to forging a better future
‘I don’t think I should apologise for what people did 300 years ago. It was a different world, a different time.
‘You could apply that argument to any civilisation, any country and we seem to be terribly keen to apologise for the past and a bit less worried about creating a good future.’
He added: ‘If you want to get into British empires, you can compare the British empire with the Belgian empire, the German empire, you compare it with the Spanish empire, compare it to the Portuguese empire and you’d find by comparison with the others we were not even a military empire, we did it on bribery, that’s how the Brits did it. This stuff doesn’t help
Labour’s manifesto, which is being unveiled on Thursday, is expected to include a review of British colonialism, according to HuffPost UK.
A poll in 2016 found that only 21 per cent of Britons regretted their country’s colonial past, while 44 per cent said they were proud of it.
But in recent years, the empire has been the subject of fresh debate and war heroes such as Winston Churchill have had their reputations dragged through the mud.
The former prime minister was memorably labelled a ‘mass murderer by Green Party MSP Ross Greer, who cited his role in the Bengal Famine which ravished India in 1943.
Brexit Party candidate Claire Fox tore into Labour’s supposed call for a probe, and blasted it as ‘political correctness’.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage with Peterborough candidate Mike Greene (left) and Claire Fox (second right), who tore into Labour’s supposed call for an inquiry into colonialism and blasted it as ‘political correctness
Speaking alongside Mr Farage, she said: ‘Labour is offering a unique policy, a historic inquiry into Britain’s colonies.
‘No doubt this is part of their politically correct identity politics stuff, designed to make everybody feel guilty for being British and will amount to a lot of woke proposals.
‘I’ll save the Labour Party some time. I’ll tell you something about Britain’s colonies.
‘If you ask a historian you realise those colonies fought behind the banners of national sovereignty and self determination – the very principles that are ignored and sold out by today’s Labour.
‘Very important principles that allowed freedom for people around the world. It’s also true that they ignore in the present the colonial expansionism of the EU.’
Mr Farage also used his trip to Peterborough to defend his decision to stand Brexit Party candidates in Labour-held seats.
The Brexit Party leader said many of the people who will vote for him in seats won by Labour in 2017 ‘wouldn’t vote Conservative if you paid them’.
He said Conservative claims that voting for the Brexit Party would put Jeremy Corbyn in 10 Downing Street were ‘wrong and utterly disproved by history’.
He also suggested that it ‘does look like’ Mr Johnson ‘will get a small majority’ at the snap poll.
Meanwhile, Mr Farage conceded many voters have had enough of hearing about the UK’s departure from the European Union and are suffering from what he described as ‘Brex-haustion’.
Mr Farage made the comments at an event in the marginal seat of Peterborough which Labour won at a by-election in June 2019 as the Brexit Party came in a close second, just 683 votes behind.