Leeds felt the full force of the Farage effect yesterday when the UKIP leader and his Brexit Bus rolled into the city on the EU ‘leave’ campaign trail.
Arriving 90 minutes later than scheduled, Mr Farage popped into Kirkgate Market to chat to traders, telling them small local businesses like theirs - which do not trade abroad - would flourish outside of the European Union, because “they will not get such massive regulation”.
Asked if Leeds’s Northern Powerhouse ambitions and potential could be realised without strong economic ties with Europe, he said: “For those Yorkshire businesses who do trade abroad, there will be much bigger, better global possibilities.
“We will go on buying and selling goods and services from the EU regardless of whether we’re members of the union or not. It’s a big world out there.
“Be in no doubt that for some of the giant multinationals, leaving the EU might be bad, but it won’t be bad for everybody else.”
Kirkgate Market was the birthplace of iconic British brand Marks and Spencers - founded by Polish Jewish immigrant Michael Marks in the 1890s - but the irony was somewhat lost yesterday as shouts of ‘Go On Nigel’ and ‘We want our country back’ rang out through the historic building.
Stopping to speak to stallholders in the market’s famed Butcher’s Row, Mr Farage said: “Look at what the meat hygiene directive has done to costs for businesses.
“Businesses who have never had a complaint from customers having to comply with more and more regulations.
“This is a classic example of [the EU making it] more and more expensive for you guys to stay in business.
“Most of it is completely unnecessary. It’s all made in Brussels and we should make our own laws in our own country.”
One stallholder - who said he had already decided to vote to stay in - asked Mr Farage “what is going to fill the void?” and put it to him that “sometimes it’s better the devil you know”.
Butcher Jim Minshull said he is going on holiday to Italy on June 26 and would like to keep on taking advantage of better exchange rates.
He added: “I was born in 1966, we joined the EU in 1970. There are faults with the European community, but I don’t think leaving it will cure it.”
He told the YEP his vote had not been influenced by any of the politicians’ rhetoric, and he believes that most people will vote with their hearts.