VIDEO: 'EU is like a badly designed undergarment' says Boris
Sides were splitting as former London mayor Boris Johnson brought the 'Vote Leave' battlebus to Alfreton today.
The Conservative figurehead of the anti-EU group leading up to the 'in/out' referendum on June 23 attracted national media to his visit to a local textile manufacturer David Nieper in the Derbyshire town, to talk down the naysayers who maintain that leaving the EU will be bad for British business.
And sides were splitting with his gags about the opposition's 'pants being on fire', and even describing the EU as a 'badly designed undergarment - too tight in some places, far too constrictive, and dangerously loose in others'.
The MP, who has faced controversy recently with a comparison between the EU and Nazi Germany, fielded questions on the impact of leaving the single market, and made an attempt to iron a Vote Leave' flag made on site.
He said at the family-run clothing manufacturer: "One thing we see at our fantastic factory, run by David Nieper and his son Christopher is that they sell around the world as well as in Europe in ever growing quantities, without the anxiety of what would happen on June 23.
"Everybody wants to be able to sell in the EU, but in the past 20 years since the single market has been in operation, actually it's those countries outside that have sold more into it than the UK."
When questioned on his claims that a Brexit would save the UK around Â£350 million a week he told us: "That comprises all the contributions, some obviously are spent by the EU in the UK, some come back in the budget abatement, but net, you're talking about Â£10 billion a year which is completely lost and goes on Spanish bullfighting... heaven knows what."
We held Boris to his claims that leaving the EU would free up billions to invest in the NHS, and asked what he would do about our failing hospitals in the East Midlands. He said: "This is something that should be our priority. I can't make specific funding commitments for each and every hospital but there's no question that you'd have more money free for investment in the NHS."
The East Midlands has benefited from Â£200 million of investment from the EU over six years, from 2007-2013, which has been spent on economic regeneration, digital infrastructure, railway lines, research, development and training, and would not have come from central government which focuses investment on devolved areas like the Northern Powerhouse. So would a Britain outside the EU still play such a role in funding our development?
He said: "The East Midlands has sent far more money to Brussels. Of course you'd keep that. That's British taxpayers money that wouldn't be redistributed to other areas of the UK under any circumstances, that would come back to the East Midlands and you'd have more. It only makes sense to invest in the East Midlands, its a great place to invest."
He also denied speculation that major firms in the region like Boots and Rolls Royce would look to other shores to host their manufacturing.
"Not according to them," he said. "It would galvanize British business and we'd take back a huge quantity of money."
The Midlands has also felt the brunt of 'open door immigration', with Shirebrook featuring in the national media recently with images of 'Little Warsaw' and a local population of 10 per cent Eastern Europeans, many of whom are in jobs at the Sports Direct facility. On Open Door immigration he said: "We have large number of people come into the UK and they're very welcome indeed but you can't control it and you can't budget for their impact on the NHS."
Referring to his comparison of the EU to Hitler, he said: "Lets be clear about this, this is an undemocratic system in the EU and it's an attempt to create a single country called Europe."
Managing Director of the Alfreton clothing firm, Christopher Nieper said: "I started feeling neutral on this Europe issue and the more I learned about, it would make no difference at all to jobs if we left the EU."
"We asked our European staff if they thought the appetites of European clients would be different after 'Brexit' and they thought it would make no difference at all. They buy our product because it's designed in Britain, made in Britain, and it's British quality.
We asked him if British workers would lose some of the employment rights and safety regulations we enjoy if we left the EU. He said: "We've got to compete for skilled people and we don't have to be told by Europe how to attract the best people."