Nigel Farage snubbed as Labour MP pulls out of ex-Brexit Party leader's net zero rally

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Graham Stringer, a former Lord Commissioner of the Treasury, was due to join Mr Farage and Reform UK leader Richard Tice at an anti-net zero rally in Bolton, Greater Manchester. But the Blackley & Broughton MP is understood to have been forced to pull out of the event, which was seen as the launch of Mr Farage’s campaign to hold a referendum on net zero, after being spoken to by Labour Party whips.

Mr Stringer’s decision to steer clear of the event will come as a setback for Farage and his colleagues inside the ‘Vote Power Not Poverty’ campaign, who had hoped to build a cross-party coalition.

However, this is not the first time Mr Stringer and Mr Farage planned on joining forces for a joint cause.

Mr Stringer, who voted for the UK to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum, joined Mr Farage at two rallies held by the cross-party pro-Brexit ‘Leave Means Leave’ pressure group in 2018.

Labour List, a website focusing on news from the UK’s second-largest party, claims the whips were more concerned with Mr Farage’s comments on NATO, Russia and Ukraine rather than net zero.

During an appearance on GB News, Mr Farage said: “Yes, we know the Russian can be paranoid, but why poke the Russian bear with a stick?

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“If Vladimir Putin’s one demand is that we state clearly that Ukraine is not going to join NATO, why don’t we do it?”

A Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour Party unequivocally condemns Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and is unwavering in our support for the Ukrainian people, and we’ve been clear about our views on Labour MPs sharing platforms with those who don’t take that view.”

However, figures on the left of the party have voiced concern about Mr Stringer’s views on climate change.

Momentum co-chair Gaya Sriskanthan said: “Graham Stringer’s embrace of climate denial is a stain on the Labour Party.

“By backing fracking and joining the concerted right-wing attacks on climate action, alongside odious figures like Farage, Stringer is out of step not just with Labour policy, but with the country as a whole.”

Tory MP Craig Mackinlay, chairman of the Tories’ Net Zero Scrutiny Group, told the Telegraph there is still much more work to be done on the issue before it was time to back a referendum.

Mr Mackinlay, who was a colleague of Mr Farage in UKIP and then pipped him to the post in Thanet South in 2015, told the broadsheet Labour MPs need to set up its own group to discuss the economic costs of climate change targets.

However, Mr Stringer’s snub is the second setback Mr Farage has faced since trying to hold his first post-Brexit rally.

The event had been scheduled to be held at Bolton Wanderers’ 28,723-seat University of Bolton Stadium, which also hosted a Farage-led ‘Leave Means Leave’ rally.

However, the owners of Bolton Wanderers Football Club and the Bolton Whites Hotel soon reneged on their contract to hold the rally.

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A statement issued by the League One club said: “The event has been cancelled by BWFC and is not something the club and business wish to be associated with.”

‘Vote Power Not Poverty’ responded by describing the decision as a “Moscow-style rebuke to free speech”.

The group also appears keen to try and emulate the success of pro-Brexit campaigns in recent years.

Echoing Vote Leave’s 2016 referendum slogan, ‘Vote Power Not Poverty’ said: “Let’s take back control of our energy policies and prices.”



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