'Brexit' will benefit British business: UKIP

Reporting by Helia Ebrahimi, writing by Lauren Fedor
EU needs UK more than we need them: Farage
EU needs UK more than we need them: Farage

British business will not be harmed by a U.K. exit from the European Union, the leader of Britain's eurosceptic U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) told CNBC -- despite the latest survey showing the vast majority of manufacturers in favor of remaining in Europe.

"The fact is this country trades at a massive deficit with Europe. They sell us far more Mercedes and bottles of champagne than we sell them bottled beers and cars made here," Farage told CNBC, adding, "They need us more than we need them."

In a survey published Monday, U.K. manufacturing trade body EEF found that 85 percent of its members would vote to stay in the EU, with only 7 percent of companies voting to leave. The remaining 8 percent responded "don't know."

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"Despite the continued challenges faced by the euro zone, manufacturers remain overwhelmingly of the view that our economic welbeing is inextricably linked to the EU and we must stay in membership," EEF CEO Terry Sculoer said in a statement.

But Farage told CNBC the EEF was "just plain wrong."

"You know, they are part of the big corporate set in Brussels," Farage said. "They are dependent on Brussels to pick the crumbs from the table. They don't want to show any opposition to it."

"We see this again and again and again, whether it's them or the CBI," Farage added. "We see trade bodies, or representative groups of trade bodies saying one thing, and when you go around the back and you poll the individual companies, you get a very different picture."

Farage spoke to CNBC late Friday at a metal casting site in Doncaster, England, on the second day of the UKIP National Conference. The three-day event saw more than a dozen speeches covering policy proposals on everything from U.K.-only immigration queues at airports to a scrapping of income taxes for workers on the minimum wage.

But over the weekend, it was the defection of lawmaker Mark Reckless from the Conservative Party to UKIP that drew the biggest headlines.

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On Saturday, Reckless told conference attendees that he was frustrated with the Conservatives' European policies and had resigned as a Member of Parliament, triggering a by-election in his district of Rochester and Strood. Reckless is the second Tory MP to switch to UKIP in less than two months; Douglas Carswell announced his defection in August, and will seek to defend his seat as a UKIP candidate in a by-election in Clacton in October.

Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP, speaks during a press conference in London after his party's first win in a national election.
Mary Turner | Getty Images

While UKIP currently has no representation in Westminster, according to the most recent polling numbers from YouGov, 15 percent of British voters would support UKIP in a general election, compared to 31 percent of voters for the Conservatives. According to the figures, 36 percent for voters nationally would support Labour, with just 7 percent backing the Liberal Democrats.

On Sunday, Prime Minister David Cameron, a Conservative, told the BBC on the first day of his own party conference in Birmingham that he found the defections "frustrating…counterproductive and rather senseless."

"If you want to have a European referendum, if you want to have immigration controls," Cameron said, "there is only one option and that is to have a Conservative government after the next election."

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Cameron has promised a referendum on Britain's EU membership by the end of 2017 if the Conservatives win next year's general election.

Farage, meanwhile, said on Sunday that the defections represented not only a disillusion with Cameron's ruling party, but also with the Labour opposition.

"There is a great deal of disenchantment with David Cameron's leadership of the Conservative Party but equally don't underestimate the fact that there are Labour backbenchers who are thinking about this as well," Farage told the BBC, adding,

"It wouldn't surprise me if we saw more defections."

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