Larger than life former Mayor of London Boris Johnson swept into the Ribble Valley today as part of the nationwide tour to encourage people to vote to leave Europe.
He was met with a rousing reception at Gisburn Auction Mart where he was introduced in the auctioneer’s ring after the morning’s business and proceeded to sell a cow!
The gathered farmers clapped, laughed and cheered as Boris began the bidding and farmer Simon Foster called out: “Are you doing the bidding in pounds or euros?”
After he sold the animal for £960 after brisk bidding Boris launched into an impassioned speech outlining the main reasons for leaving the EU and why he was championing the Vote Leave campaign. He promised them that the subsidies they receive now will not change and outdated regulations imposed on them by a “remote” Brussels will be lifted.
He said: “Any Government would be mad not to invest in farming and rural industries which are the lifeblood, the backbone and heritage of this country.
“This is a very important time for the UK and we have a huge decision to make but this is about democracy in the UK and taking back control. The UK is a great nation but we need to claim back control. June 23rd could really become Independence Day.
“How many millions are we sending to the EU every year that is spent on things like bull fighting in Iberia?”
He pointed out that if the UK left the EU it could take back £300m that could be spent on the ailing NHS. He also said that the UK could control immigration.
He said: “At the moment we cannot control our own borders and every year we have an influx of people equivalent to the population of Newcastle.”
There were gasps when Boris, who was joined by Vote Leave campaigners, Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans and Priti Patel, Employment Minister, said that 60% of laws made in the UK were governed from Europe.
Mr Evans reassured the audience that British farming would be “better off” out of the EU.
After his speech and a tour of the Auctions Boris was flanked by national media and also members of the public eager to meet him and shake his hand.
And although he received a warm Lancashire reception it seems that many people are still undecided on the issue.
One farmer said: “He gave a good speech but I am still not sure which way to vote. I don’t even know who our MEP is.”
Bryan Robinson, manager of Gisburn Auction Marts Ltd, said: “It’s been a very positive experience for Gisburn Auction Mart as it’s not every day that you get a world reputed celebrity to appear here.”
He said the majority of farmers he had spoken to are afraid of what will happen to the subsidies that farmers currently receive from the EU if the Vote Leave campaign is successful.