What is 'milkshaking?' Ask the Brits hurling drinks at right-wing candidates

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage gestures after being hit with a milkshake while arriving for a Brexit Party campaign event in Newcastle, on May 20, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (WASHINGTON POST) - Angry Britons are fighting against hate speech and unpopular far-right campaigners with an unlikely weapon: the milkshake.

In recent weeks, the act of "milkshaking" has become a symbol of protest on British soil, with Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage becoming the latest target in a string of attacks that have seen dairy-based drinks dashed at controversial European election candidates during events across the country.

Farage had been campaigning Monday (May 20) in the city of Newcastle for only around 20 minutes when a 32-year-old man hurled a drink at him, covering his suit in a sticky liquid that the attacker later confirmed was a banana and salted caramel milkshake from Five Guys that cost US$6.68 (S$9.20).

Soon after the attack, a visibly shaken Farage can be heard reprimanding his security team for their inability to protect him successfully. In a widely circulated video, he can be heard saying: "complete failure" and "how did you not stop that?"

In the background, witnesses of the attack can be heard laughing as Farage attempts to make a swift exit. Farage remains a deeply unpopular and divisive figure in Britain and is frequently criticized for his extremist views ranging from immigration to Brexit.

By Monday afternoon, #Milkshake was the top trend in the United Kingdom on Twitter, closely followed by the name of the milkshake thrower, identified as Paul Crowther, who said he did not regret his actions.

According to PA reporter Tom Wilkinson Crowther could be heard talking about his milkshake while standing in handcuffs outside a bookstore, saying: "I was quite looking forward to it, but I think it went on a better purpose."

"It's a right of protest against people like him. The bile and the racism he spouts out in this country is far more damaging than a bit of milkshake to his front," Crowther said. After the attack he was arrested and taken into police custody.

Farage later told police he would press charges.

On Saturday, Burger King came under fire after tweeting: "Dear people of Scotland, we're selling milkshakes all weekend. Have fun. Love BK #justsaying" seemingly in response to the news that a McDonald's near a Farage rally in Edinburgh had been asked to halt sales of milkshakes and ice cream.

While many on social applauded the tweet, others expressed concern over the political commentary, calling the tweet an attempt to incite violence. Burger King later sent a follow-up tweet, staying: "We'd never endorse violence - or wasting our delicious milkshakes! So enjoy the weekend and please drink responsibly people."

UKIP European election candidate Carl Benjamin and former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson have also been "milkshaked" by disapproving protesters in similar attacks.

Benjamin is currently under investigation for a past tweet, in which he said he "wouldn't even rape" Labour lawmaker Jess Philips although he maintains his comments were a joke - much to the concern of many. Benjamin has been "milkshaked" four times in recent days, while Robinson had two milkshakes poured over him in just two days earlier this month.

After the milkshaking on Monday, Farage tweeted: "Sadly some remainers have become radicalised, to the extent that normal campaigning is becoming impossible. For a civilised democracy to work you need the losers consent, politicians not accepting the referendum result have led us to this."

The spate of milkshake attacks in the United Kingdom follow on from the story of Australia's "Egg Boy," a swoopy-haired teenager who cracked an egg on the back of far-right lawmaker Fraser Anning's head at a news conference in March. Following the attack, Egg Boy was punched in the face by the senator, as security officials scrambled to control the situation.

Last month, the political eggings continued in Australia. Prime Minister Scott Morrison was hit on the head with an egg - although on this occasion it failed to crack.

In Britain it is believed that milkshakes have become the preferred weapon of choice as attackers sipping shakes appear far more inconspicuous than bystanders clutching eggs.

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