THERE was surprise and anger among the hundreds of people who gathered in a windy tent in Sedgefield last night in the hope that the Brexit stardust of Nigel Farage would rub off on the North-East.

Anger at the political establishment for not getting Brexit over the line, and surprise that they felt angry enough to be going to a political rally about it.

Mr Farage’s Brexit Party now has a dozen candidates ready to stand in the traditionally Labour North-East. The region voted largely to leave, by nearly 70 per cent to 30 per cent in places on the coast, but the sitting Labour MPs are not seen to be fulfilling their constituents’ wishes.

“I would never vote Conservative, but the Labour Party has disenfranchised people like me,” said Peter Telford, a barrister who stood for Labour in the 1992 election in Plymouth, but is now the Brexit candidate in North Durham where Labour has a 13,000 majority. “The people I speak to cannot believe how the Labour Party has walked away from the working class.

“It is more than anger now. It is coldness.”

The rally was held at Sedgefield racecourse in the seat once held by Tony Blair.

“Sedgefield is symbolic in many ways,” said John Tennant, one of the two Brexit Party MEPs elected in May when the party topped the Euro-elections poll with 38 per cent, double Labour’s 19 per cent.

“It is winnable for us because Labour working class voters are fed up with Labour politicians going on about a second referendum and blocking Brexit.”

Sedgefield may be a target but it also shows the difficulties the party faces. In 2017, Labour’s Phil Wilson polled 22,000 votes ahead of the Conservatives’ 16,000 and Ukip’s 1,700. If both Tories and Brexit run, they will split the anti-remain vote and let Labour in, so the talk last night was of the “non-aggression pact” that Nigel Farage has offered Boris Johnson.

“I would like the two of them to be best friends, to play squash every Friday afternoon – those are the calculations only politicians can make,” said Tim Martin, the boss of the Wetherspoons pub chain, who is the second biggest star in the party’s firmament after Mr Farage. Tall with a snowdrift of untameable white hair, people rushed up to shake his hand.

“But the electorate of the North-East is highly intelligent,” he continued. “As it showed at the referendum, it will not be led by the nose like a horse at the races.”

The party is united by the desire for a no-deal Brexit – an exit with a deal just won’t do. Persistent predictions of no-deal being economically catastrophic are universally rejected as “project fear”.

“There’ll be no economic harm,” said Keller Fong, who at 48 is surprised to find herself involved in politics for the first time as a candidate in Conservative-held Hexham. “It is scaremongering. There is nothing to fear. Business demands trade.”

She was born in north China, has worked globally in the oil and gas industry, became a British citizen ten years ago, and lives in Corbridge. Her upbringing in undemocratic China, she said, colours the way she views the EU.

“The UK is not an independent country,” she said. “We are locked in every respect to the EU. We are a vassal state under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, and I’m gobsmacked by that.”

Brexit to party members is not just about jobs.

“It has nothing to do with economics,” said Isabel Campbell, of Thornton-le-Beans, near Northallerton, who fell out of the Conservative Party because of Theresa May’s attempts to do a deal. “It isn’t about Europe – I have lived in France. It is about people governing us and controlling us.

“We want to be free.”

Other Brexit Party candidates include Herbert Robson (Gateshead), Faye Clements (Middlesbrough), Bruce Fox (North West Durham), Jacqueline Cummins (Redcar), Nick Brown (Bishop Auckland), Ken Hodcroft (Hartlepool), Aleshea Westwood (Thirsk and Malton) and John Prescott (Stockton South).