UKIP leader Nigel Farage claims Northampton firms trading oversees would notice “no difference” if Britain left the EU despite fears a Brexit would hamper lorries travelling across the continent.
The controversial politician had been due to make a speech and take a tour of Market Place yesterday in the town centre, but was forced to divert his purple battle bus to the Royal Oak pub in Blisworth, when protestors marched on the square.
Speaking from the pub’s beer garden - only a few miles away from when his campaign plane crashed near Brackley, the MEP said Northamptonshire - and its many haulage firms - should not fear Brexit.
The claims come after results from a conducted membership survey by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) show 65 firm bosses believe the supply chain, logistics and transport industry will have a better future if the UK remains in the EU.
But Mr Farage said: “We will go on trading with Europe exactly as we do now, because they need us more than we do them.
“The trade deficit has now ballooned to about £80 billion a year - even the worst case scenario - even if we had no deal with Europe would be better than the rubbish deal we have now.
“And what about all those firms in Northampton, which don’t trade with Europe?
“Yet they have to abide by EU law, even though only 12 per of our entire economy is made up of sales to Europe.”
Yesterday protestors in Market Place chanted “say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here” in reaction to Mr Farage’s stance on immigration.
Paul Crofts, a prominent civil liberties campaigner in the town, said the UKIP leader had created a politics of “fear and hatred.”
But Mr Farage continued his calls for a points based immigration system, similar to that seen in Australia.
He said: “The argument is simple, since World War Two, we have ran an immigration policy of net about 30,000 a year. It is now more than ten times that.
“We have got something here which is completely out of control and we can’t control it within the EU.”
Brendan Glynane of the I’m In campaign in Northamptonshire to remain in Europe, disagreed with Mr Farage’s business claims.
He said: “I think leaving the EU would stifle business in Northamptonshire.
“When you talk about logisitcs and the ability of lorries to travel across Europe without being stopped - Brexit would send us back to a scenario before joining the EU, where a lorry would be stopped and checked a number of times.
“The time and cost that would add is significant.
“And in terms of investment the east coast ports (of the US) would no longer look to Britain to invest, they would be looking at the Netherlands, France.
“To say it is not going to affect business is plainly wrong.”