Nigel Farage speech interrupted as Led by Donkeys protesters lower in Vladimir Putin banner

Nigel Farage was interrupted mid speech at a Reform UK rally by a banner of a smirking Vladimir Putin planted by activists Led by Donkeys.

The political action group planted the poster which showed the Russian leader saying ‘I love Nigel’ during a rally at the Columbine Centre in Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex.

The crowd jeered as the stunt caused the right wing figurehead to stop during a point about what British children are taught in history.

The banner slowly came into view as it lowered from the ceiling, causing Mr Farage to say that someone at the centre was “going to get the sack”.

Members of the audience chanted “rip it down” as security members struggled to remove the signage from where it was behind the Reform leader.

Led by Donkeys, the group which has been lampooning right wing politicians since the Brexit vote, took the action over Mr Farage’s much-criticised stance on the Ukraine conflict.

Mr Farage told the BBC’s The Panorama Interviews programme that “we provoked this war”.

He made the comment in reference to countries in eastern Europe signing up to Nato and the European Union, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Of Mr Putin, he added: “I said I disliked him as a person, but I admired him as a political operator because he’s managed to take control of running Russia.”

The backlash caused Mr Farage to say he would ‘never, ever defend’ Mr Putin.

“I would never, ever defend Putin and I think his behaviour in Ukraine and elsewhere has been reprehensible.

“But if we’re going to think towards a peace at some time in the not too distant future, perhaps it might be helpful to understand what went wrong in the first place.”

Mr Farage has seven times failed to become an MP but is running in Clacton on Sea where Tory Giles Watling won a huge majority in 2019.

Other candidates are: Matthew Bensilum, Liberal Democrats; Jovan Owusu-Nepaul, Labour; Craig Jamieson, Climate Party; Tony Mack, Independent; Natasha Osben, Green Party; Tasos Papanastasiou, Heritage Party; Nigel Farage, Reform UK; and Andrew Pemberton, United Kingdom Independence Party.