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Nigel Farage hits back over flak for appearing with George Galloway

By Richard Wheeler

Published 21/02/2016

Nigel Farage
Nigel Farage

The Ukip leader has insisted Galloway is one of six people who can shift public opinion to a no vote in the EU referendum

Nigel Farage said a "big team effort" will be required from Leave campaigners, with "controversial" Respect Party leader Mr Galloway capable of speaking to people who want to stay in the EU and large parts of Britain's Muslim community.

Mr Farage said he believes far-right groups including the English Defence League would not be allowed to join Grassroots Out although he initially appeared less certain about the British National Party, before adding: "I'm sure we would have said no."

He also spoke in support of Boris Johnson joining those seeking Brexit, joking he would love to see headlines of "BoGo" in Monday's newspapers.

Asked if he accepted he is a divisive or "Marmite" politician, Mr Farage told BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show: "That, of course, is the talk in Westminster and it's the talk amongst the Tories.

"The truth is if you look at the research and polling into this, those people that believe in the European project, that believe in free movement of people, the more I appear on programmes like this the more upset they get and the more they dislike me.

"Amongst the undecided voters, I have a potentially positive effect.

"There are people out there who are undecided who will listen to what I have to say in this referendum campaign, and the truth of it is this - there are only half a dozen people involved in this referendum campaign who could really shift public opinion, and I'm one of them.

"But it's not about one person, Andrew, it's not about that."

Questioned about his appearance with former MP Mr Galloway at a Brexit rally, Mr Farage denied it had echoes of Labour's Tony Benn and Conservative Enoch Powell teaming up in the 1970s.

George Galloway
George Galloway

He said: "Back in the 70s there were very few political figures or public figures that appeared on No platforms.

"On that night, yes, the Respect Party was on the platform, so was the Conservative Party, so was Ruth Lea the economist, so was a London taxi driver, so was (Tory MP) Sir William Cash, so was (Labour former minister) Kate Hoey.

"The point about Grassroots Out is, we're bringing people together from across the spectrum.

"I don't suspect there's a single domestic policy, in many cases foreign policy, of which George Galloway and I would agree.

"He said some very disobliging things about me but, look, sometimes in life an issue comes along which is bigger than traditional differences, and this question of getting back control of our country, living in a democracy, means that what we've done in Grassroots Out is said we cast aside previous quarrels and differences and we will work together."

Asked if he would allow the English Defence League or Britain First to join GO, Mr Farage said: "No. I don't think we would for one moment and if the British National Party still existed that would have given us a problem but I think we would have said no.

"I'm sure we would have said no."

He noted the campaign needs to reach out to large parts of the country, adding: "However controversial George Galloway is, he does actually speak to a large Muslim community in Britain, he speaks to people who at the moment are on the Remain side.

"It's going to be a big team effort from lots of us.

On whether he hopes London mayor Mr Johnson joins his side, Mr Farage replied: "Absolutely, absolutely.

"He's one of those half a dozen people that reaches out to a large number of voters, and we'd love to see 'BoGo' as the headline tomorrow, it would be just great."

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