Peterborough Brexit Party candidate claims it is a 'disgrace' by-election was needed and that city 'can do so much better'
A whirlwind romance saw Mike Greene elevate himself from successful businessman to politician, but the Brexit Party by-election candidate insists he has the years of experience to "make things happen for Peterborough".
Mr Greene was formally announced today as the party's candidate for the by-election in Peterborough at a press conference alongside party leader Nigel Farage and chairman Richard Tice.
Remarkably it has only been a few days since Mr Greene first registered an interest in standing as a candidate, with Mr Farage admitting the campaign launch at the Great Northern Hotel was just the third time the pair had met, having first been introduced over dinner on Tuesday evening following a Brexit Party rally in Peterborough.
But despite his rapid ascent from entrepreneur and TV personality to the political centre stage, Mr Greene of Crowland was adamant he can deliver long-lasting changes in the city where he grew up from the age of 11 after moving to Barnstock in Bretton with his four siblings, mum and stepdad.
"I've always been passionate about politics, but I'm not a politician," said Mr Greene at the Great Northern Hotel this lunchtime.
"It's reached a point where I couldn't sit back any more. This city, like this country, can do so much better."
Chief among his targets was former MP for Peterborough Fiona Onasanya whose recall from Parliament by her constituents through a petition triggered the by-election.
The Recall Petition automatically began after she was jailed for three months for perverting the course of justice after lying about who was driving her car when it was caught speeding in Thorney.
Ironically Thorney was the location the Brexit Party 'battle bus' visited after the press conference.
Turning his ire on Ms Onasanya, Mr Greene said: "I'm not a politician. I find it quite disgusting, in a way a disgrace, that this by-election even has to happen. The people of Peterborough chose Fiona Onasanya in good faith that she would work for them, would deliver for them.
"I never saw her in this city. In fact we heard more about her as a city when she was in prison than when she was an MP.
"I believe that without any shadow of a doubt I'm the most passionate person that can deliver for Peterborough. I want to use my business experience to make things happen for Peterborough."
The focus of Mr Greene's policies were delivering Brexit, education and encouraging businesses to come to Peterborough.
On the former, he said: "It's time for change - it's time to talk positively about Peterborough and positively about politics in Peterborough. The reason I support the Brexit Party is in my view they are the only party who have absolute clarity of focus on what Brexit is.
"We need to write our own laws, we need to be in control of our own trade, we need to be in control of our own borders.
"I want a WTO (World Trade Organization) deal and to start from a clean slate which is better than starting from a really bad deal.
"I don't believe purchasing prices will go up or retail prices.
"If I believed in one cell of my body Brexit was going to make things worse for my girls I would not vote for it."
Mr Greene was educated at Bretton Woods - "a tough school" - and returned to the city after becoming a father having travelled the globe for work.
The self-made millionaire earned his fortune advising leading UK companies on people’s shopping habits, as well as through property investments.
In 2011 he appeared on the Channel 4 programme Secret Millionaire where he helped secure the future of New Ark Adventure Playground in Reeves Way and helped a hostel by providing computer equipment to aid homeless people with job searches and job application letters.
He has also previously been outspoken against plans by the city council to put renewable energy parks across 900 acres of farmland in Peterborough, which sparked outrage before eventually being scrapped at a cost of more than £3 million to local taxpayers.
Mr Greene is currently managing director of Brightfield Group, which is converting the council's former Bayard Place offices into flats, and he used his campaign launch to highlight his support for local businesses, charities and schools.
On education, he made a point of complaining about the length of time to set up the new University of Peterborough which is scheduled to open in 2022.
The project is being delivered by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority - the county's mayoral body.
Mr Greene, who formerly sat on a committee to help progress the project, hopes to see it deliver courses on agriculture and utilising Peterborough's 5G network capabilities.
He said: "I stepped back from that committee when I thought the university would be delivered, but it's never been delivered. They're dragging their feet.
"I don't want to see it kicked down the road, I want it to represent Peterborough as a great university.
"We were supposed to have the first students by this year when we first talked, then it got moved to 2020, 2021, 2022. I think they need someone who cares about the city enough to not just talk about these things, but to make these things happen.
"I want to use my lack of experience to question why things go so slowly in this city and to challenge why things aren't happening to make this a great city."
Mr Farage said Mr Greene is "clearly incredibly passionate about Peterborough".
He added: "We have a great candidate and I'm very, very pleased about that. There's been acres of speculation about what can happen in this by-election. What I do know is the Labour Party have been working the ground hard in the past several months because they knew this was coming.
"We launched four weeks ago so do not have much data on voters in Peterborough, but we have the European elections where we have every chance of topping the poll and we have a particular appeal with this type of candidate, somebody who has not been part of the two major parties and never craved a career in politics.
"I think we will do very well and will give it our best shot. The Conservative and Labour parties are worried about the presence of Mike Greene, a candidate very well known and respected in this constituency."
Mr Tice said: "We launched four weeks ago in Coventry and we have taken the political world by storm. We are without question the fastest growing political movement in this country, and possibly seen in a generation. We are looking to change politics for good."