- Former UKIP leader offers Republicans lessons from Brexit
- Urges focus on immigration and attacks on establishment
Former U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage appeared on stage at a rally with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in Jackson, Mississippi, and said that if he were a U.S. citizen, he "wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton if you paid me."
Farage on Wednesday night urged Trump’s supporters to get out and vote "against the establishment," and spoke of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union as a positive example.
"They told us that our economy would fall off a cliff... and David Cameron -- then our prime minister, but no longer -- told us we might even get World War Three,” Farage said. "We saw the polling industry do everything they could to demoralize our campaign. On the day of the election itself, they put us 10 points behind. But actually, they were all wrong."
Introducing Farage, Trump likened Brexit to the upcoming presidential vote in the U.S.
"On June 23, the people of Britain voted to declare their independence -- which is what we’re looking to do also, folks -- from their international government, which hasn’t worked," Trump said. "They voted to break away from rules, by large corporations and media executives who believe in a world without borders. They voted to reclaim control over immigration, the economy and over their government. Working people and the great people of the U.K. took control of their destiny."
Farage has long seen parallels between his insurgent campaign to get Britain out of the European Union and the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party. After his side’s surprise win in the June 23 referendum on Brexit, Farage sees Trump delivering a similar victory in the U.S., and he said he wanted to talk about the lessons from his fight.
“With our well-aimed stone, like David, we’ve hit that big Goliath and we’ve knocked him over,” Farage told the SuperTalk Mississippi radio network, adding that “the circumstances, the similarities, the parallels” with Trump are “uncanny.”
Mississippi is a solidly Republican-voting southern state in presidential elections, and Democrat Hillary Clinton is not expected to be competitive there in November.
“The polls do not know what is going to happen,” Farage said. He said Trump is right to be focusing on immigration, which drove the vote for Brexit. “It was the key, it was the absolute key. Firstly it’s about numbers -- I mean our population was 55 million in 1990. It’s now 65 million, and they’re the ones we know about! Trump is the candidate with whom things will change.”
Trump supported Britain leaving the EU, even as the U.S. government was taking the other side. He’s since cited the issue as an example of how his judgment and political instincts are better than Clinton’s. “Crooked Hillary Clinton got Brexit wrong,” he tweeted June 26. “I said Leave will win. She has no sense of markets and such bad judgment. Only a question of time.”
Farage said the fact that Trump lacks support from mainstream politicians on his own side need not be a problem. “The vast majority of our members of Parliament supported staying in the European Union,” he said. “The fact that the Bushes, the fact that the establishment are not backing the party’s nominee, doesn’t necessarily have to matter.”
The former UKIP leader insisted that, “as a foreign politician,” he isn’t going to tell Americans how to vote. But he did offer a hint: “I would not vote for Hillary, even if you paid me.”
Farage stepped down as head of UKIP after the Brexit referendum. The party is currently electing a successor.