Pub’s pints poll shows Ribble Valley keen to leave Europe

Photo: David Hurst
Farming Minister, George Eustice and James Warburton of Places Group, with a pint of Vote Out at Bowlands Brewery's Waddington Arms in Waddington.
Photo: David Hurst Farming Minister, George Eustice and James Warburton of Places Group, with a pint of Vote Out at Bowlands Brewery's Waddington Arms in Waddington.

Ribble Valley people want out of Europe ... if their taste buds are to be believed!

A unique EU beer poll on Bank Holiday Sunday provoked heated debate as the high profile Vote Leave Battle Bus rolled into Waddington.

I think the amount of people buying ‘vote out’ pints is indicative of how people in the borough feel. Ribble Valley is a very strong vote out region, there’s a lot of support for the campaign

Ged Mirfin

On board was Minister of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice.

And an informal consumer poll, which took the form of two Bowland Brewery beers, one “Vote In” and the other “Vote Out” on the bar at the Wadddington Arms saw the “leave” beer storming ahead claiming 65% of the sales versus just 35% for the “remain” pint.

Landlord Andrew Thompson said: “We wanted to do something to get the locals talking about the referendum and do a straw poll to find out what the general view was in the area.”

Around 500 people flocked to the event which coincided with the annual Sausage Sizzle day.

James Warburton, owner of Bowland Brewery, said he came up with the idea to introduce a pint for both sides of the argument to get people interested in the issue and discussing it.

Mr Warburton said: “The EU referendum is on TV, radio and is inevitably discussed over a pint in the local pub. The idea of the poll was to stimulate debate and it has certainly done that.”

The debate was launched by representatives from both sides including Conservative councillor Ken Hind, leader of the Stronger in Europe Campaign in the Ribble Valley. and farming minister Eustice who told the crowds: “If we left the EU, we would stop sending £350m a week to Brussels. That would give us more than enough to support our farming policy. We would spend the same amount of money on our farming if we left the EU, but we could spend it more effectively. Without all the dead weight costs, EU audits and regulation we could do things better.

“We contribute £20bn to the European Union each year and over £1.5m of this comes from the North West. We have a unique opportunity to change this in June, by voting to leave the EU. “If we were to leave, we would be able to control how our money is spent. We could spend this money on our priorities like the NHS and it would enable us to take back control of our economy, helping to create jobs and drive growth in places like Waddington.”

The event was organised by Ribble Valley’s Vote Leave co-ordinator Ged Mirfin and Paul White, regional director of the Vote Leave campaign North West.

Coun. Mirfin said: “We thought it would be a good way to get people together to share their views and the turnout was brilliant with the vast majority voting to leave. It really helped that it was a nice warm day and people were really enthusiastic about it.”

Coun. Mirfin believes the results show the strength of feeling to leave the EU in Ribble Valley.

He said: “I think the amount of people buying ‘vote out’ pints is indicative of how people in the borough feel. Ribble Valley is a very strong vote out region, there’s a lot of support for the campaign.”

But those campaigning to stay in the EU also sent out their strong message at the Bank Holiday gathering.

Coun. Hind said: “The In campaign will be pressing the need to stay in the single market in the EU which accounts for 50% of trade and on which 475,000 jobs in the North West are linked.

“Our weekend message is that we will not solve our immigration issues by leaving the EU. Over half of current immigration is from outside the EU and the National Health Service, which employs 130,000 EU doctors and nurses, would be under real threat if they are not able to be employed in the UK.”

Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans is a well known supporter of the “leave’’ campaign and he has described voting day on June 23rd as “Independence Day”.

He said: “I am definitely voting to leave the EU. People send me to Westminster to legislate. If they don’t like what I or the government are doing they have the opportunity to get rid of us.

“But the EU is undemocratic and remote.”