Nigel Farage hit with McDonald’s milkshake, woman arrested

Arch-Brexiteer Nigel Farage threw himself back into the political fray on Tuesday as he launched his election campaign on a cold, overcast day in the English seaside town of Clacton-on-Sea.

Some in the crowd chanted, “We love you!” while others called out, “The main man!” and “Go ahead, Nigel!” amid spontaneous applause.

But by the end of his visit, not all were won over. As he was leaving the pub, someone threw what looked like a banana milkshake over his smart navy suit and purple tie.

A 25-year-old woman from the area was arrested on suspicion of assault following the incident.

Farage, 60, had until then been largely hailed as a hero in the Brexit stronghold he hopes to represent in the British parliament for the anti-immigration Reform UK party.

As he marched towards the town’s pier, a large crowd trailed behind him, including dog walkers, young mothers with children and people on scooters eager to hear what he had to say.

Farage was in full campaign mode, a day after dealing a blow to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his beleaguered Conservative Party by announcing he would stand in the July 4 election.

“Nothing works anymore, does it?” Farage urged the crowd of at least 500 people to murmur in approval, adding that he wanted people to feel free and “proud to be British”.

“What we need to do is to reactivate the people’s army against the establishment,” he added, re-casting himself as a standout and the man to shake up British politics, especially on immigration.

– Odds on –

For window cleaner Michael Cashman, 49, Farage’s message fell on fertile ground. “I want the main parties to actually stand up and listen to the British people,” he told AFP.

The father of two said he was worried about how his sons would make a life for themselves in the future. And while he said he has nothing against immigrants, he believes their numbers should be reduced.

“If you come here as a legal migrant, you are more than welcome,” he said, but “illegal migration” had to be “crushed”.

The constituency of Clacton, currently held by the Conservatives, was the first to elect an MP from Farage’s former political vehicle, the UK Independence Party (UKIP), in 2014.

If UKIP’s once fringe anti-EU stance has influenced mainstream Tory policy over the years, the very existence of Reform UK – with Farage at the helm – threatens to split the right-wing vote.

Alexandra Burton, 37, said she was a very picky voter, but she really liked what she heard. “I was going to vote Labor but now I don’t know. I may vote for the reform,” she said.

The former credit control worker said a big election issue for her was not being able to access an NHS dentist or services for one of her children with special needs.

Another Clacton resident, Joe Clark, said Farage’s arrival “changes everything”. The 55-year-old engineering consultant usually votes Conservative.

But Farage would be a “great leader” for both Clacton and the wider country, he said, even predicting an overall victory for him in the 2029 election.

– Future –

In the last general election in 2019, which Boris Johnson’s Conservatives won by a landslide, the reform frontrunner, the Brexit Party, agreed not to field candidates for seats held by the Conservatives.

Farage, who founded both, told the BBC on Tuesday there were “no circumstances” in which Reform UK would stand aside this time.

He said he felt betrayed by the Conservatives and claimed millions of others felt the same way.

“I stood on the sidelines in over 300 seats for Boris Johnson and we were told we were going to get control of our borders, we were told immigration was going to go down. They exploded,” he added.

Farage, who has previously tried and failed to become a British MP seven times, said Keir Starmer’s Labor was certain to win the election.

“The question is, who will be the voice of the opposition?” he asked, highlighting what certainly appears to be an ideological battle for the future of the Conservatives after the election.

Window cleaner Cashman said people like him, who normally vote Conservative, were likely to be fatal to Sunak’s hopes of staying in power.

“I know that a reform vote is clearly stealing votes from the Conservatives and we are likely to hand them over to Labour,” he said.

“But if I don’t go and vote for change and try something else … then it stays the same.”

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