Brexit Party kick off national tour in Colchester
PUBLISHED: 07:59 04 September 2019
The Brexit Party launched its national tour in Colchester this week - vowing either to be "best friend" or "worst enemy" to Boris Johnson depending on whether he commits to a no-deal Brexit.
The rally took place at Colchester United's Jobserve Community Stadium on the edge of the town, with stands filled to hear speeches from Mr Farage, East of England Brexit MEPs Richard Tice and June Mummery and heavyweight Brexit Party backer, Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin.
A party without a manifesto, the Brexit Party is taking policy suggestions on each leg of its tour, with members of the public able to book 10-minute slots to pitch their ideas.
Speaking to the East Anglian Daily Times on the night, Mr Farage committed to an election pact with the Tories if Prime Minister Boris Johnson commits to a no-deal Brexit.
Mr Farage said: "Boris' big problem is the Brexit Party. Our point is that the withdrawal agreement, even without the backstop, is the worst deal in history.
"If he takes that deal, that treaty, back to the people in a general election, he'll find we are his worst enemies.
"If he agrees to a clean break from the EU, then we can be his best friend in a non-aggression pact and make him a hero."
The Brexit Party came into existence weeks before the 2019 European Elections, where it took 29 of the UK's 73 seats.
A group of peaceful protestors with banners and placards demonstrated as people arrived at the stadium.
The tour comes as the country prepares for a tumultuous week in the House of Commons, and arrives after a weekend of public protests - under the name 'Stop The Coup' - which also drew over 100 people to the Ipswich Cornhill.
A mixed welcome for Farage in Colchester
Groups protesting against Mr Farage's comments about migrants gathered at the corner of United Way to voice their anger at his arrival.
Labour's parliamentary candidate for Colchester, Tina McKay, said: "I think it's important to protest these kind of events.
"We're not here to oppose Brexit, we're here opposing the politics of hate and division that Nigel Farage brings with him.
"He's introduced the leader of the AfD (a German far-right party) who said at his rally that people should be allowed to shoot asylum seekers, he is also an acquaintance of Steve Bannon who encourages people to wear their racism with pride.
"Colchester has a wonderful history of welcoming anyone that wants to come here and I think it's really sad that today we have a man who represents such division."
Tony Sullivan, of Colchester Stands Up To Racism, added: "I think the real division in Britain isn't leave or remain, it's about people who want to see a fundamental change in politics in Britain.
"Nigel Farage has nothing to say about homelessness. He has nothing to say about the NHS. He attacks the very people at the core of our NHS, migrant workers that we stand with, we need those migrants in Britain."
Where do the Brexit Party plan to stand for election in Suffolk and Essex?
Conservatives can expect a fight for Therese Coffey's Suffolk Coastal seat, along with Dr Dan Poulter's Central Suffolk and North Ipswich seat, where Brexit Party MEP Dr David Bull will run.
For Labour, Ipswich's Sandy Martin will be challenged by Brexit Party candidate Nicola Thomas.
Seats in Harlow and Castle Point in Essex are also on the party's radar as targets.
More than 50 candidates have been announced so far, however Mr Farage claims the party has 650 candidates ready to fight for every seat in the country if Mr Johnson does not agree to pursue a no-deal Brexit.
What makes this Brexit Party tour so important?
The opening leg of the 'Making Britain Stronger' Tour took place the night before parliament returns to thrash out options surrounding the UK's exit from the EU.
In a quickly shifting debate, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is currently planning to call a snap election in a bit to return a working majority to the House of Commons.
Mr Johnson saw an MP join the Liberal Democrats in the middle of a speech yesterday, as well as removing the whip from 21 MPs, including father of the house Ken Clarke.
Opponents of the move in Westminster have formed an alliance in a bit to table legislation to prevent a no-deal scenario today, with a potential no-confidence vote in Mr Johnson still possible.