Ukip leader Nigel Farage got a standing ovation as he made his feelings on immigration clear to an audience at Portsmouth Guildhall.
He was questioned on his views in front of hundreds of people in a question and answer session at the end of his visit to the city.
He said: ‘We should have proper border controls.
‘People should have to give a primary purpose for coming here. It’s called the National Health Service, not the global health service.’
He added that the UK needs to have a work permit scheme for migrants.
‘When you boil it down to Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, over a million of their workers are in Britain and only 42,000 British citizens are working in those countries,’ he said.
‘We need to operate a sensible, work permit scheme with countries like that.
‘There is no doubt there are many people who have come to Britain, worked hard and obeyed the law.
‘But let us be able to choose who those people are and not have an open door to the criminal gangs and the people trafficking and all the abuses that have happened with open doors.
‘We’re not anti-immigration. Let’s have skilled people coming to Britain on work permits, provided they’ve got health cover and don’t think that we’re going to educate their families.
‘Why don’t we do what the Australians do?
‘The Australians say you have to be under 45 and you have to have a skill or a trade to bring that will better our society.’
Earlier in his visit, Mr Farage pledged to restore people’s pride in the Portsmouth area, should Ukip see success in next month’s local and European elections.
The party’s leader said he wants to help build the Royal Navy back up and believed cuts imposed on the defence and maritime sector was ‘a tragedy’ to the city and a blow to the nation.
But opposition leaders say Ukip is purely reliant on Mr Farage and his personality and doesn’t have any concrete policies other than exiting the European Union.
Mr Farage – who was in the city promoting his party’s local and European south-east elections campaign – believed the decision by BAE Systems last year to move its shipbuilding division from Portsmouth to Scotland was politically charged and done to influence the Scottish independence vote.
Mr Farage said: ‘We want to bring back the Royal Navy, simple as.
‘It almost beggars belief that it’s a Conservative-led government that has done what it has done with the navy.
‘I come here quite regularly and it’s amazing that over the last three of four years to see Portsmouth slowly but surely become a museum city, rather than a dockyard and working naval base.
‘That is a tragedy for the city but also desperately short-sighted for the nation.
‘We have cut defence too far, and too fast. If we get into more trouble then we will have to ask the French for a carrier.’
Mr Farage said he wants more support provided for local businesses which are affected by EU regulations and open the Solent to more of the local fishing trade and limit the number of foreign vessels.
‘We want to get a good framework in place that gives smaller firms a chance,’ he said. Councillor John Ferrett, leader of Portsmouth’s Labour group, described Mr Farage as a ‘clever’ politician with questionable policies.
‘If you took Nigel Farage out of Ukip, then as a party it wouldn’t have much going for it, so it is reliant on Mr Farage and his personality,’ Cllr Ferrett said.
‘If you ask questions about Ukip’s policies – then you’ll find it doesn’t have any other than being in favour of a referendum on leaving the EU.’
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said while he recognised there had been deep naval cuts, taking Britain out of Europe would damage jobs in the city, as key foreign companies are based there.
Cllr Donna Jones, leader of the city’s Conservative group, added that Ukip were ‘dangerous’ because of its one-dimensional policy.