The farmer who went viral after he warned Boris Johnson had turned Great Britain into Little Britain has stood by his views saying: "I said what had to be said."

Straight talking John Emerson, 62, became a YouTube sensation with millions viewing him on social media - including 2.1m on Twitter - after a BBC interview in the key marginal seat of Bishop Auckland, Co Durham .

He was lauded after he tore into Johnson for lying and said the PM should be sent to jail or sued.  The passionate speaker also decried claims written on the side of the Leave campaign bus which said the UK would have £350m more a week for the NHS if we left the EU.  

The Huffington Post described his performance as the 'best vox pop' ever after dad-of-two John said simply of Brexit: "It is like a turkey voting for Christmas, isn't it?

 


"It’s the epitome of what the human race can do, it’s the faith that we might be better outside the EU and there’s no solid basis for it – I’ve yet to see anybody put a solid argument up for leaving Europe."

Speaking at his sheep farm near Frosterley, Co Durham, John said: "It is the way I feel.Nobody seems to have considered the consequences of Brexit for the North of England.

"I believe we are going to be worse off. The North of England gets millions out of Europe. Are the likes of Rees Mogg going to send millions of up North?'  "I think not."

He admitted that he was 'slightly intimidated' by the scale of the response but added: "I am glad that people are listening." John was part of a delegation from the National Farmers Union - he is representative for his area - who was due to meet Tory Minister Michael Gove last year.  

Mr Gove was forced to drop out as he had to speak in an emergency debate in Parliament, so John met Tory Lord Ridley instead. John recalled: "He told me that hill farmers would be all right in a couple of years after Brexit. He said that there was no such thing as global warming.

"I told him that I thought he was talking bo*****s. It was a spontaneous response. It all went quiet after that. Seemingly you have to show more reverence to politicians." Lord Ridley is known for his outspoken views on climate change.

John added: "I know that you cannot categorically say there is climate change, as a hill farmer I cannot say that. But if we were to take the action needed and clean up the environment, would that be wrong? "I don't think so."

He described Johnson's stance on Brexit as political opportunism. "I don't think he truly believes," he added. "I just do not feel you can trust him."

In his interview, shown on BBC news, John, who is a Labour voter, said: “We’re far better working together as a common community than we are split up. On the night of the referendum we went to bed as Great Britain and we woke up as Little Britain and that’s a tragedy.

“All the things they put forward, none of them are as good as staying in Europe – all the alternatives they put forward, none of them are better.

“You’ve got to trade with your local neighbours. Donald Trump is wishing to take over the health service. Boris Johnson will go to negotiate with Donald as a little boy. He has stuffed the DUP. He went over, gave empty promises and the day after sold them out.

“It’s the Irish problem, he can’t sort it. He set about this, he promised £350m, he knew that was a lie. He lied to the British public and he’s perpetrating this lie now. He should be sent to jail.”

John's wife Ann was astonished by the reaction to the interview but said her husband 'was not the average hill farmer'. "I had no idea he was trending, I have never heard of that before," she said. "But he has a great sense of right and wrong.

"He always stands up for what he believes in."

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Their daughter Kathleen, 28, who has a Phd in maths, works abroad. Son William, 25, who helps his dad with the 1,000 sheep and 70 suckler cows on their farm, has messages from friends about his dad's TV debut....including a meme of John with 'Little Britain' stars Matt Damon and David Walliams.

"I got a message to say there had been 2.1m hits on Twitter, and 1.5m on YouTube," said William,. "I think it was unusual to get a farmer to express those views, it was unexpected.

"But it was the most entertaining interview they had seen for a long time."