Nigel Farage is heading to Birmingham NEC for £5 a head rally and not everyone is happy

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage at a previous rally on the campaign trail
-Credit: (Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage is heading to Birmingham NEC this weekend for what he's billing as the biggest political event in his career. In a move reminiscent of Donald Trump's giant MAGA events, Farage is urging supporters to descend on the landmark location for a pre-polling rally.

"Come and join Nigel and other key Reform figures as we embark on the final week of campaigning for the 2024 General Election," says the advert for tickets, costing £5 a go - with Farage predicting 5,000 will go along to hear his rallying cry. The event comes amid new polling predicting that Reform could take a significant vote share across the country, though it's unlikely that will translate into many seats.

Reform supporters have taken to social media to spread the news, saying it will give 'more than a jolt' to mainstream parties if the venue is filled to capacity. One suggests no other party leader would have the same impact and that 'thousands' will be there.

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Some ReformUK candidates have been outed for unsavoury and, in some cases, racist or homophobic views in a series of investigations since the General Election was called, while Farage has previously been directly targeted on the campaign trail, with a woman soaking him in milkshake in one incident.

He announced his leadership of ReformUK and that he was standing to be an MP in the former Conservative seat of Clacton earlier this month, triggering a surge in polling favouring the party.

But the decision to bring his rally format to the West Midlands has not been welcomed by all. Stephen Maddox, principal at the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, tweeted: "Very disappointing that he’s chosen Birmingham, city of tolerance and inclusion. Though the NEC is at least big enough to accommodate his ego."

Mr Maddox later highlighted previous controversial speakers platformed in the West Midlands, writing: "1934: Oswald Mosley holds his biggest rally yet, at Bingley Hall; 1968: Enoch Powell makes his ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech at the Midland Hotel; 2024: Nigel Farage holds his biggest rally yet, at the NEC. Poor Birmingham."

The Save Station Street campaign account said of the rally: "Shame on you NEC for taking the money and giving space to this grifter and his "party" of racists, Putin apologists, fascist fanboys and dangerous extremists. Disgusted you'd give him a platform. Birmingham, we need to show Farage he's not welcome here."

The event will be live-streamed online. It comes after two open air meetings in Kent and Devon attracted hundreds of supporters. During the run-up to the 2019 General Election, five years ago to the day, 5,000 people gathered at the NEC to watch him launch the Brexit Party campaign.

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His key message to Conservative and Labour voters is to back Reform UK as the 'party of opposition'. "If Tory voters, who have watched with horror their party implode after 14 years of betrayal and incompetence, want a real opposition to Starmer, they need to vote Reform UK.

"And Labour voters, who may have been worried about letting the Tories back in but don't agree with Labour's complete lack of patriotism or their obsession with wokery, should also vote Reform UK for a break with the two-party corruption of the past. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rebuild Broken Britain. If you love your country - as I do - this time, vote with your heart."

Also on stage will be former Tory minister, ex-Brexit Party MEP and Strictly Come Dancing performer Ann Widdecombe, who is now Immigration and Justice spokesman for Reform UK, and entrepreneur Zia Yusuf.

Mr Yusuf, the son of Sri Lankan immigrants who recently sold his VIP concierge business Velocity Black for £233million, is a former Conservative backer. But he made headlines last week after it emerged he had instead given Farage his endorsement and financial backing.

Before his NEC appearance, Mr Farage is taking part in a BBC Question Time leaders' event being filmed in Birmingham this evening, alongside a representative of the Green Party.

A spokesperson for Birmingham NEC Group said:All events that take place at our venues must be safe and lawful, and we work closely with the relevant authorities to ensure that is the case. The hiring of our venues does not constitute any form of endorsement for the event by the NEC Group."

ReformUK candidates standing in Birmingham constituencies are:

  • Edgbaston - Joshua Matthews

  • Erdingon - Jack Brookes

  • Hall Green and Moseley - Stephen McBrine

  • Hodge Hill and Solihull North - Jamie Pullin

  • Ladywood - Irene Yoong-Henery

  • Northfield - Stephen Peters

  • Perry Barr - Akshay Khuttan

  • Selly Oak - Erin Crawford

  • Sutton Coldfield - Mark Hoath

  • Yardley - Nora Kamberi