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Boris Johnson drops visit to Rochester

The Prime Minister pulled out of an election campaign visit to the Towns at the last minute.

Boris Johnson was due to deliver a speech in the beer garden of Ye Arrow pub in Rochester High Street this afternoon.

Supporters waiting for Boris Johnson at Ye Arrow pub in Rochester were left disappointed
Supporters waiting for Boris Johnson at Ye Arrow pub in Rochester were left disappointed

But his appearance was called off at the last minute after about 1,000 supporters and protesters turned up.

It was initially believed the cancellation was on security grounds following discussions with police.

But this has since been dismissed and a Conservative Party source said: "Logistical reasons meant that today’s visit was severely delayed.

"The delay meant that additional security concerns presented themselves which then made the visit impossible."

Tory candidate for Rochester and Strood, Kelly Tolhurst, said it was "disappointing" he pulled out, saying there were "logistical" problems.

Hundreds of people were gathered at the pub and in the street along Bolney Hill waiting for the PM to arrive.

Opponents were among the crowds with Conservative campaigners
Opponents were among the crowds with Conservative campaigners

Dozens of camera crews and reporters waited in the courtyard behind the venue.

But after word spread of Mr Johnson's intentions to deliver the speech, supporters were left disappointed.

Crowds quickly disappeared after a police officer informed them the visit had been scrapped.

Earlier in the afternoon the Conservative Party's campaign bus was seen parked in the coach stop on Corporation Street.

In the pub garden, supporters held aloft signs supporting the Conservatives which set out party pledging more money for schools, a stronger economy and backing the NHS.

An estimated 1,000 people turned out to see Boris Johnson in Rochester
An estimated 1,000 people turned out to see Boris Johnson in Rochester

Placards from opponents, including members of the Extinction Rebellion group, claimed austerity measures from the Tory government has "killed over 130,000" and that the "blood is on your hands".

Mr Johnson was in Kent on Friday ahead of a TV debate aired live from Maidstone with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

He held a surprise visit to the Kent Showground at Detling, near Maidstone, in the morning to talk with party members ahead of Thursday's election.

On the outskirts of the crowds, which filled Ye Arrow beer garden was Medway Stand Up To Racism.

Key member Steven Wilkins said: "We're been forced off the pub's land for protesting.

Tory candidate Kelly Tolhurst at the event
Tory candidate Kelly Tolhurst at the event

"We have our placards, which say 'say no to racism, say no to Boris Johnson'.

"He has made racist remarks over the years which he has refused to apologise for.

"It's quite clear from his plans things are going to get harder for ethnic minorities and migrants. I'll be voting Labour."

Members of Extinction Rebellion were not happy about the Prime Minister coming.

Gillingham resident Kira, 18, said: "Climate crisis is the biggest issue we face.

Medway Stand Up To Racism members were removed from Ye Arrow beer garden
Medway Stand Up To Racism members were removed from Ye Arrow beer garden

"We're going to have food shortages, people are dying and so is the environment.

"The government are completely inactive about this, all they care about is Brexit but there can't be a Brexit on a dead planet."

Rochester West councillor Stuart Tranter (Con) said: "I don't know the details, I had heard it was something to do with security, but I'm no security expert so I can't give any more details than that

"It's great fun, he's a big character, I think a lot of people would have been interested to see him.

"A few people would have liked to shake his hand and have a chat, a few people would have probably given him their opinion.

Extinction rebellion were also present and not happy about Boris' visit
Extinction rebellion were also present and not happy about Boris' visit

"I'm supporting Kelly in the election, I'm a remain voter and I'm still supporting the Conservatives."

Miss Tolhurst said: "Obviously everyone wanted to see Boris but when you're on the campaign trail its real, it can be a real logistical nightmare and sadly he's not been able to pop in today.

"Of course it has been disappointing but as one of his ministers I've got the direct line to him anyway.

"He was really keen to get round as much of Kent as her could.

"It doesn't stop the campaign it's motivated all my volunteers this morning.

Cllr Stuart Tranter was disappointed not to see the PM
Cllr Stuart Tranter was disappointed not to see the PM

"It's great to see so many young people come out to support Boris today

"I think that just shows really how much he appeals to the young population in Medway

"I had the climate change protestors speak to me but I'm proud to be a minister in a government which has been to put net zero carbon emissions for 2050 in legislation.

"My campaign has been about being on the doorstep, it was not really about Boris.

"I've been out everyday all over the constituency getting my leaflets out

Rev Nathan Ward and Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Rev Nathan Ward and Prime Minister Boris Johnson

"I want to go out and meet real people and real voters.

"The one thing i will say is that I haven't been able to do that today because I've been here."

The Tory leader did meet with knife-crime campaigner Rev Nathan Ward, vicar of St Margaret's Church, Rainham.

For more Kent 2019 General Election coverage click here

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