‘Farage about openness, Trump – protectionism’

Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump, right, invites United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage to speak during a campaign rally at the Mississippi Coliseum on August 24, 2016 in Jackson, Mississippi. © 
Jonathan Bachman
Despite Nigel Farage and Donald Trump having similar opinions on migration, they have different views on economics. The outgoing UKIP leader is about openness and links with the world, the GOP candidate – protectionism, says Bruges Group director Robert Oulds.

Outgoing UK Independence Party leader and Brexit figurehead Nigel Farage traveled on Wednesday to the US state of Mississippi to take part in rally together with Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump.

READ MORE: Ex-UKIP boss Nigel Farage vows return to frontline politics if Brexit isn’t delivered

RT: The Brexit flag-bearer and outgoing UKIP leader Nigel Farage has met US presidential nominee Donald Trump and appeared at a rally with him. What do you think they have got in common?

Robert Oulds: They don’t have a great deal in common. Of course Donald Trump thought that Britain would indeed vote for Brexit – that is something that Nigel Farage didn’t necessarily always believe, particularly on the night of the referendum himself… But they are really two different people from different political traditions. Originally UKIP and Farage were a libertarian party…

The EU for Britain is too small – we want links with other countries around the world. Trump is tapping into the original Republican tradition. [Ronald] Reagan, [Barry] Goldwater in America – they were an aberration. The real Republican tradition in the US is always about protectionism; about policies that protect industry and keep out foreign competition.

Trump is the opposite of what Farage is about. Of course they both have concerns about migration and immigration, but in terms of economic policies Farage is about openness wanting to have links around the world. Trump is about protecting American industry and in a sense closing markets to foreign competition…

They may also have concerns about the policies of NATO, but that is from a different point of view. Farage thinks in some cases NATO is reckless. Trump has concerns about NATO and questions it, but that is because the European countries aren’t pulling their weight, aren’t committing enough. He wants to focus on putting American taxpayers first…

They don’t have a great deal in common, apart from knowing that migration does need to be handled, you can’t have open-door policies. And that Brexit referendum, where Trump was in touch and no other political world leader caught that one correctly in other countries.

RT: Are they equally successful, in your opinion?

RO: Nigel Farage hasn’t been particularly successful, when it comes to British elections. The British electoral system is very, very difficult – to get elected to the House of Commons. And he did come very close in 2015. Some people think he perhaps should have won that election. He’s tried on seven different occasions to get elected to the British House of Commons, and never actually succeeded. Whereas Trump has been far more successful; he’s got far more votes in the Republican primaries, where he himself got the highest number of votes ever achieved…

Farage has been successful making UKIP the biggest party in the European elections, but that is on a low turnout. It doesn’t have the same relevance. Most people would think they do have a lot of in common in terms of how they appeal, how they talk plainly. But Farage is far more measured than Trump and usually thinks more often before he speaks than Trump does.

RT: Mr. Farage said on the radio that the similarities between Brexit and the US election were 'uncanny'. What does he mean?

RO: What is particularly relevant is the fact that the elites are completely out of touch: many people in the media, the political parties – they are not in tune with what ordinary people are thinking. And that is the case not just in Britain, as we’re shown by the Brexit referendum, where the elite were lining up against the people to try and to scare us, but also in the US, where for some time people have thought that Washington, the Wall Street weren’t in touch with the ordinary American…

RT: Trump backed the UK's exit from the EU, and tweeted “They will soon be calling me 'Mr. Brexit’. Is Trump in a position to really claim any credit for the decision?

RO: Trump will take the credit for everything. He is an opportunist. I don’t mean that in a bad way. He is a very successful businessman. He brands political events, economic events with his own style… He wants to show that he was in touch with the ordinary people… In many cases he is: he is in touch with blue collar workers known in the US as middle class people, who don’t feel they benefited from economic growth, from globalization: the foreign competition is coming, and they perceive their jobs are being taken. That is something very different from Brexit.

Brexit was always about being open to the rest of the world, whilst controlling our own immigration policy. In fact the immigration issue came relatively late from 2004 onwards in the UK. Euroskepticism has been for much, much longer – an opposition to the EU. So that is more of the case of aligning with the successful insurgent, political movement, and showing to the American people that despite what the polls say the result can be very different. The polls were saying that Theresa May was going to win in the referendum. The polls in the US are showing that Hillary Clinton will win the Presidency in November. But he feels differently. In fact I do feel that Trump has a very good chance.

 

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