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Farage hit by Milkshake as he starts the British election campaign

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(Bloomberg) — Brexit architect Nigel Farage launched his campaign to win the parliamentary seat of Clacton in a carnival-like atmosphere, drawing hundreds of people to the Essex coast with his promise to upend Britain’s political order. But not everything went according to the wishes of the newly appointed leader of Reform UK.

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The populist right-winger was drenched in what appeared to be a milkshake thrown over him from a McDonald’s cup by a member of the public as he emerged from a pub in the city on England’s east coast. Footage showed him wiping a cream-coloured liquid from his forehead, and footage captured the moment a young woman appeared to douse him with the drink. It was a throwback to when he was chomping at the bit after giving a speech during his European election campaign in Newcastle in 2019.

Earlier, crowds had jostled to get a spot on balconies, steps and bridges on Clacton pier to catch a glimpse of Farage as if he were a rock star. Long a thorn in the side of the ruling Conservative Party, Farage had announced late on Monday his eighth attempt to win a seat in the British House of Commons, dealing a major blow to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s own campaign. The Tories fear the damage Farage could do to their Fourth of July vote, potentially costing them seats in Keir Starmer’s Labor Party, which has a wide lead in the polls.

“These elections are effectively over. That breach of trust by the Conservatives means they are done. We are going to have a Labor government whether you like it or not,” Farage told the crowd gathered near a Ferris wheel, referring to the Tories. fails to reduce immigration. “The question is who will be the voice of the opposition,” he said, adding: “I want Reform UK to be in Parliament, and I promise you I will liven it up much from what it is now.”

Farage has vowed to lead reforms over the next five years, with the main aim of challenging Starmer at the next general election, due in 2029. On Monday he announced the current election campaign, pitting two technocrats against each other in the form of Sunak and Starmer – as the “boringest” of his life, saying it “had to be done again”.

Tuesday’s launch in Clacton certainly did that, with a bevy of visiting press and excited cheers from the gathered crowd as Farage bantered with them about immigration, whether women can have penises, and other examples of what he called ‘woke PC nonsense’ . ”

After his meeting, Farage held court with journalists over a pint in a Wetherspoon pub. It turned out that the drink was thrown over him. While Essex Police later arrested a woman over the incident, Farage himself made light of it by posting a video of himself on people to the meeting”, a pun on the words of a hit by the American singer Kelis.

Farage has previously tried seven times to win a seat in parliament, with his bids always ending in failure. The closest he came to victory was at the 2015 general election, when he took 32.4% of the vote in South Thanet on the Kent coast, finishing less than 6 percentage points behind the Tory winner.

But one of his previous parties – the UK Independence Party – managed to win the 2015 general election in Clacton, when UKIP polled 3.8 million votes nationally. And in another good omen for Farage, polling by Survation in January suggested he would win in Clacton if he held on.

If an unscientific Bloomberg poll is anything to go by, Farage has a chance. Nine of 14 residents contacted by Bloomberg in Clacton on Tuesday said they planned to vote for Farage – including three who had come out specifically to see the Reform UK leader speak. The other five were unsure or had no intention of voting. In terms of the top concerns voters talked about, immigration came up the most.

One attendee at the meeting, Leslie Smith, described immigration as the “biggest issue” of the election campaign and that she planned to vote for Farage because he seemed like a “straight talker”.

“We can’t continue as we are, we have to get the numbers down,” Smith said. Andy Johnson, another Clacton resident, agreed, saying he had always voted Conservative but was planning to switch to Farage because the ruling party had lost the will to prevent small boat arrivals across the Channel come.

Although Sunak’s party has passed legislation to allow the deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda without the right of return, deportation flights have yet to start and the number of migrants arriving from France in small boats has reached record levels this year.

“These are people who come here illegally on a boat and then live off the taxpayers,” Johnson said. “I have no problem with people who come here legally and work hard, but that’s the problem. Nigel is the one who solves that.”

(Updates with comments from Clacton residents begin in 10th paragraph.)

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