NIGEL FARAGE launched his new Brexit Party in Coventry – and we challenged him about fears of ‘thousands of job losses’ in West Midlands manufacturing.
The former UKIP leader addressed followers at the BG Penny & Co factory on the Three Spires Industrial Estate in Longford.
Mr Farage told spectators the ‘fight back’ begins in Coventry, the heart of England and the centre of the nation’s industrial sector.
He repeatedly criticised Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May and Parliament’s handling of Brexit negotiations.
He says the extension of Article 50 to delay Brexit is a betrayal of the 17.4milllion people who voted to leave the European Union (EU) in 2016.
In protest, he formed The Brexit Party in January with a group of nine ex-UKIP MEP colleagues and they officially launched today (April 12).
The new party plans to field candidates in every region at the European Elections on May 23, and he introduced four of them at the launch – including prominent Brexiteer Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg’s sister, Annunziata.
The British political heavyweight – who has been a figurehead of the movement to leave the EU for more than a decade – added that Brexit is a ‘state of mind’.
He continually referenced the on-going battle between the people and politicians who are obstructing Brexit.
He insisted his new party could win the European Elections and would continue beyond Brexit – to disrupt the failing two-party political system.
Mr Farage said: “I did actually think that the 498 MPs who voted for Article 50 which explicitly said that we would leave the EU on March 29 – with or without a withdrawal agreement – would honour the result of the referendum.
“But it became clear pretty early on in the so-called negotiations that our remainer parliament, our remainer cabinet and our remainer Prime Minister would do their utmost to delay and actually stop Brexit.
“What we have seen in the past few weeks was a wilful betrayal of the greatest democratic exercise in the history of this nation.
“You are here today at the birth of a new force in British politics.
“I haven’t spent 25 years of my life fighting to raise the issue of why we should be an independent, self-governing country to roll over and allow a career political class to betray that result without me fighting back.
“Well the fight back begins here in Coventry today.”
The Coventry Observer in questioning Mr Farage said: “You issued a specific appeal to attract business people, people who ‘do deals’, entrepreneurs – and avoid politicians.
“You are in the traditional industrial heartland as you have said and we hear often from chambers of commerce in the region, from prominent business people in this region, that market uncertainty caused by Brexit is a direct threat to thousands of jobs in manufacturing.
“What does this party say to those people in the region who are seriously worried about whether they will have a job next year?”
To which Mr Farage responded: “The longer this drags on, the more this Prime Minister kicks the can down the road, the more market uncertainty there is.
“Business has to deal with changing conditions.
“And the one thing I have found speaking to entrepreneurs in business, is they say ‘get it done, get it over with, tell us what the cards are, we will adapt and adjust to whatever they say’.
“And as for the jobs point, we were told by (former UK Conservative chancellor of the exchequer) George Osborne that if we voted leave he would have to hold an emergency budget.
“That if we voted leave half a million jobs would go immediately, the financial sector would lose 300,000 jobs very, very quickly.
“The one area of the British economy that is suffering is investment – and that is because of the continuing uncertainty of not knowing what resolution there is.
“So you do tend to find that there are two business voices. There is a corporate voice, generally coming from very big companies who want to keep things exactly as they are – they are very happy with EU regulation.
“Because that stops new entrants coming into the market, and keeps prices high.
“But actually among SMEs and elsewhere, many think there could be huge benefits of us leaving the EU.
“Whatever the circumstances are, Britain adapts and we are an entrepreneurial country, a global trading nation, we will do absolutely brilliantly in the future.”
There was a protest against Mr Farage outside the gates of the factory with upwards of 30 people in attendance.
Coventry Liberal Democrats diversity officer Aimee Challenor said: “We are a city of peace and reconciliation, we are one of the UK’s most diverse cities. The hate that he has pushed as UKIP leader and since is not welcome here in Coventry.”
Another middle-aged protester said: “I think we should all have a people’s vote to vote on the issues that have been raised since the referendum, but in particular for the 18 to 20 year olds who are going to suffer through what happens next.”
Another added: “Coventry is a city of peace, it’s the founding place of the 2-Tone movement and I think it is abhorrent that he is preaching his politics of hatred and division in our city.”
But another young man closer to the gates of the factory told us: “Nigel has set up a new party and that is what we need right now in politics.
“If you look at the main two parties, they have made it clear they are not going to respect the referendum result so we need a new force to ensure that leave really means leave.”
Another added: “Parliament has shown itself to be incapable of doing the job, they’re like a bunch of kids in the school playground.
“And Nigel has come along and he has come to shake them all up and protect democracy.”
One of the workers at the factory said: “I voted to leave, we want to get what the people want.”
BG Penny & Co is a family owned and run business with over 50 years of experience in the metal trade.
Boss Malcolm Penny said his company was ‘proud’ to play host to the party launch.
Coventry North East and North West constituencies voted to leave the EU while Coventry South marginally voted to remain.