Behind The Story of “Mr. Brexit” on the Trump Train

While the Donald declared they would be “friends for life,” Farage stopped short of actually endorsing Trump, saying it was not proper for a British citizen to tell American voters what to do—a not-so-subtle slap at President Obama for urging British voters to support “Remain” in the Brexit referendum.

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By John Gizzi | September 6, 2016

Mr. Brexit

As he has on a number of occasions, Donald Trump stole the show in terms of political news late last month at a rally in Mississippi.

Not long after he became the Republican nominee in August, Trump stunned more than 15,000 supporters as well as much of the international press by introducing a surprise “mystery guest” at his event: Nigel Farage, former leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and the politician most identified with Britain’s vote to leave the European Union—Brexit.

With his frequent pint of Guinness, his signature cigarette, and rapier-like wit, Farage, like “the Donald,” attracts attention whenever he speaks. Mississippi was no exception.

“I come to you from the United Kingdom with a message of hope and a message of optimism,” declared Farage, speaking without notes. He likened the movement culminating in the tycoon’s nomination for President to the effort that led to the UK’s vote (52-to-48 percent) to leave the EU.

Both, he declared, were genuine grass-roots movements fueled by voter concerns about a global economy and illegal immigration.

While the Donald declared they would be “friends for life,” Farage stopped short of actually endorsing Trump, saying it was not proper for a British citizen to tell American voters what to do—a not-so-subtle slap at President Obama for urging British voters to support “Remain” in the Brexit referendum.

(Last week, Farage did come a bit closer to actually backing Trump. Writing in the Daily Mail, the man often called the most controversial politician in Britain predicted the man often called the most controversial politician in the U.S. “will be new Ronald Reagan.”)

Whether it’s endorsement or simply voicing admiration, Farage did involve himself in U.S. politics in a big way that is nearly unprecedented for a British politician.

“The Farage [appearance] with the Trump campaign created quite a stir in the UK too,” British historian Graham Stewart told me, “Almost all of it was negative. There was a general view that Farage should keep out of US politics, and also an unease among Brexit supporters at being associated with Trump, who has little appeal in the UK.”

As for analogies among past British politician, Stewart, whose “Burying Caeser” is considered one of the premier histories of Britain in the 1930s said, “this is difficult because there is such a paucity of examples.

“To my knowledge Ramsay MacDonald was the first, in 1897 as a private individual and then again in 1930 as Prime Minister. The ex-Prime Minister and by then Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour visited the US in 1917.”

In more recent years, Conservative politicians such as present International Trade Secretary Liam Fox have made frequent visits, while out of power, to speak at American forums such as those at the Heritage Foundation or the American Enterprise Institute. Former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband also came to the U.S. while preparing his own eventually losing bid to become prime minister.

None, it is very safe to say, made the kind of news that Nigel Farage did with his near-blessing of Donald Trump.


John Gizzi is the White House correspondent and chief political columnist for Newsmax. He is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.

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