UKIP leader Nigel Farage had a very British evening when he visited Chester as part of his nationwide ‘Say No to EU’ tour - he began with a pint in a local pub and ended the night with a curry.
First, Mr Farage called in at Ye Olde Custom House in Watergate Street then there was the little business of a speech to deliver in front of a ticket-only rally for 670 people at the Crowne Plaza hotel.
After delivering a passionate and rousing speech, the UKIP leader, known for his strong views on immigration, retired to the Chester Tandoori in Brook Street where Tory Boris Johnson was a recent guest.
Mr Farage, who is campaigning to leave the EU ahead of the forthcoming in/out referendum, had earlier entered the room hosting the event, which had been advertised to the general public, to the appropriate strains of The Final Countdown by Europe.
He told the audience: “What has been done in our name is they have literally given away our country. Our message is loud, simple, clear - and I believe, absolutely right - our message is we want our country back, we want out country back, we want our country back.
“We want our country back because it’s the right thing to do, we want our country back because we believe in self-government, because we believe in ourselves as a nation, because we believe that democracy is better than bureaucracy or autocracy and because we believe the best people to govern Britain are the British people themselves.”
“And, despite all the lies about economics, we believe Britain would be better off economically running its own affairs.”
Boos and cheers
Mr Farage spoke in a lively atmosphere which was a mixture of political rally, religious convention, stand-up gig and pantomime, with the audience encouraged to boo a projected image of the European flag and cheer one of the Union Flag.
The party leader said it was the growth of UKIP that pressured the Tories into reluctantly agreeing to hold the EU referendum which is planned to take place before the end of 2017 at the latest.
Mr Farage, who is married to a German woman, said he was not anti-Europe.
“Europe is the most fascinating continent on the planet because of its diversity of language, of culture, of wine, of cheese and everything else.
“I’m actually very pro-European. I love Europe. I mean, I married somebody from Europe. I’ve drunk more Spanish wine than is good for me. I like to holiday in France. I love Europe but I hate the European Union.”
In a light-hearted aside, he slammed the Eurovision Song Contest and drew loud applause when he said that ‘as a matter of sovereignty and pride’ we should withdraw from it.
Talking about the current migration crisis, Mr Farage said: “I am not anti immigration but I am pro controlled immigration.”
He claimed people were being allowed into the UK who were not just fleeing from war and failed states but also economic migrants.
He added: “I’m sorry, we can’t just accept countless millions, there is a real and genuine threat.
When ISIS say they want to flood our continent with 500,000 Islamic extremists, they mean it.”
During a question and answer session, the UKIP leader, Euro MP for the South East of England, said: “We don’t need MEPs, we don’t need a British commissioner, we don’t need any of this if what we want is to cooperate and trade with our next door neighbours.
“That’s the relationship with Europe I want. I don’t want to be part of a political union and that is what the Common Market, those of you over 58 voted for, has become. It is a political union. And that is what this referendum is about.
“This referendum is not about Europe, this referendum is about European Union and we don’t need or want or desire any of it and the sooner people like me are made redundant the better.”
Mr Farage shared the platform with UKIP North West Euro MPs Paul Nuttall, who chaired the event, Louise Bours and Steven Woolfe, who lives in Chester.