Grayling, the leader of the House of Commons, praised the Ukip leader’s “barnstorming” arguments against the EU as the rival leave campaigns buried the hatchet on Monday night.
The senior Conservative declared it was a time to put aside party differences in pursuit of their common cause in the EU referendum on 23 June. In a move likely to infuriate the Conservative high command, Grayling shook hands with Farage on stage after being introduced by the Ukip leader at the event in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.
Farage got the audience chanting a Ukip refrain from the election – “we want our country back” – and then hailed the senior Tory for having “the courage, the foresight, the integrity, the belief in this nation, its people and its democracy, to go against the grain and to show he wants to bring together all the different elements of the Eurosceptic family”.
Grayling was rapturously received by the crowd, ending his speech with the Ukip leader’s same slogan: “We want our country back and we will get our country back.”
Grayling said he had fought to stop Ukip winning seats at the election but there was common cause over the issue of taking back control over the UK’s borders, trade, spending on the EU and democracy.“Tonight there is no party. This referendum is about people, not parties,” he said. “I stand here tonight alongside Nigel with common cause to go ahead and win on 23 June … As Nigel rightly said, the opportunities today for our children, for our businesses, for our society are not in Europe but further around the world in Asia, Africa, in South Africa and in the Commonwealth.”
Grayling appeared at the Grassroots Out event despite his membership of the rival Vote Leave group, the official campaign which is dominated by Conservatives such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.
For months, Vote Leave has been at loggerheads with Grassroots Out, which is backed by Farage and Ukip donor Arron Banks. However, the two campaigns are attempting to put their differences aside after Vote Leave was designated the official leave group by the Electoral Commission.
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