Brexit Party says it will scrap interest on tuition fees

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Mr Farage said he was prepared to meet Boris Johnson in the “de-militarised zone”

The Brexit Party has pledged to scrap all interest paid on student tuition fees as it steps up its preparations for a snap general election.

Leader Nigel Farage told a rally in Birmingham rates of up to 6% on loans were “outrageous” and “close to usury”.

The party suggested it would go further and reimburse graduates for “historic” interest payments made on their loans.

The party also unveiled the first 100 candidates selected to represent the party in the next general election.

In anticipation of a snap poll this autumn, it said it hoped to have 650 candidates in place by the time the new Conservative leader is chosen at the end of July.

The Brexit Party, which was launched by Mr Farage three months ago, topped the polls in May’s European elections – getting 29 MEPs elected to Brussels.

Mr Farage told activists at the Big Vision rally that his party should “not be ashamed of being called an one-issue party” by its rivals when that policy was delivering on the biggest democratic vote in the country’s history.

However, he told supporters that the party must not rest on its laurels after its electoral success and had to develop other policies as well as on Brexit.

Encouraging party members to contribute their ideas, Mr Farage said that instead of a single party conference in September, it would be holding 11 regional rallies.

‘Serious pledge’

By leaving the EU without a deal, axing HS2 and halving the overseas aid budget, Mr Farage claimed the party would free up to £200bn to spend on economic development outside London.

The party would also demonstrate how “passionate” it was about helping young people by reducing the financial burden on graduates leaving university.

Mr Farage said the current system in England and Wales, where interest charges begin to build up on loans as soon as a student begins at university and about £6,000 can be owed before a student even graduates, was “unfair” and young people deserved better.

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“No wonder so many people in their middle to late 20s who want to buy houses, perhaps start families, feel financially they cannot do it,” he said.

“Because they are paying interest rates which in the old days we would have called usury… It is outrageous, it is unfair and it has to end.

“We will use that £200bn to wipe away the interest on those debts, I suspect to the great relief of millions of young people in this country.”

Earlier, Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice suggested the party would go further and “cancel all of the historic interest that has been charged on student loans to date”.

“It is a serious pledge we are making to young people. We think it will be a much fairer system and the country can afford it.”

A recent independent review of student finance did not recommend specific changes to interest charges while advocating a lowering in the maximum level of fees to £7,500.

Tory leadership contender Jeremy Hunt has said any graduate who launches a start-up employing more than 10 people for five years should have all their loan repayments waived.