UKIP leader Nigel Farage was forced to divert to a country pub when his planned visit to Northampton market was called off at the last minute because of a protest.
About 40 people, congregated at the Market Square this afternoon and shouted slogans such as: “Say it loud, say it clear: refugees welcome here”.
By the time they marched through the market, a sizeable crowd had also gathered to welcome the controversial politician, who is a leading voice in the campaign to leave the EU.
The UKIP assistants, who had arranged for Mr Farage to appear in the town to publicise his views on the upcoming EU Referendum, believed the protest represented a risk to the leader and his supporters.
They instead diverted his purple ‘battle bus’, first to visit the Greyhound pub in Milton Malsor so he could meet the media. However, the pub could not accommodate the large purple bus and it ended up at the Royal Oak in Blisworth in another last-minute change.
Mr Farage later told reporters it was the first time a planned visit had to be diverted since his General Election campaign last year.
Northamptonshire Police said its officers did attend the Market Square but were not required to intervene.
Paul Crofts, one of the many who had come out to protest against Mr Farage’s visit, said: “I don’t like UKIP’s or Nigel Farage’s politics.
“I’m sure he is a wonderful man, who likes a pints down the pub. But his politics create fear and hatred.
“He is creating a division we have not seen for many years.”
On the other hand some supporters were disappointed the protests meant Mr Farage diverted.
David Paul, said: “We wanted to see Nigel Farage today. We were disappointed that he wasn’t allowed to come to the Market Square. He’s entitled to be there.”
Speaking in Blisworth, a village adorned with more than one “vote leave” poster, Mr Farage said he was also disappointed he did not get the chance to address voters in Northampton.
He said: “I do feel bad frankly. I’ve been going round the country doing this for two decades.
“It’s all well and good to disagree with people but are you going to do it in a sensible democratic manner?
“This is our chance to have a national debate.
“For a group of people to turn up with the intention of drowning out a debate is frankly anti-democratic and wrong.
“If we turn up as we did this morning into a busy market place at random, as we did in Birmingham this morning, you will not get that sort of behaviour.”