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A protest against Trump is a protest against Brexit

by Luke Lythgoe | 31.05.2019

“Nigel Farage is a friend of mine. Boris is a friend of mine. They are two very good guys, very interesting people.” This definitely-not-an-endorsement came from Donald Trump ahead of his state visit to the UK next week.

Closeness to Trump’s America is a common theme uniting some factions of Britain’s Brexit elite, buoyed by an enthusiasm for the populist tactics which put the reality TV star in the White House.

By no means everyone who likes Brexit also likes Trump. But those in the UK who are Trump fans almost invariably support Brexit too. In the same way, Brits who hate Brexit also hate how Trump is trashing democracy and social rights across the Atlantic.

Trump and Brexit are two sides of a transatlantic coin. Trump even referred to himself as “Mr Brexit” during his election campaign. Pro-Europeans should come out in force on June 4 to protest against both. You can sign up to join the anti-Brexit bloc on the Stop Trump march here.

Trump’s comments – and the fact that senior figures in his administration are reportedly talking up a Johnson-Farage electoral pact – have put the Tory Brexiters and the Faragists in the same boat, something both sides have been keen to avoid.

The US president is a mercurial figure who straddles the different elements of the populist right. Is Trump a far-right ideologue in the mould of his former chief strategist Steve Bannon, who is currently struggling to sew together an ultra-nationalist movement across Europe? That would put him closer to Farage’s more revolutionary goals. Or is Trump just the archetypal populist, craving public affection, pumping out messages low on detail and high on emotion, happy to throw in his lot with any movement likely to get him to power? That’s all straight out of the Johnson playbook.

In truth, Trump probably ticks both boxes. Johnson probably doesn’t – yet. But if he becomes the UK’s next prime minister, he may struggle to resist the darker forces of Farage and Bannon. He may deem it necessary to protect Tory votes from the Brexit Party. The desire for a quick US trade deal coupled with Trump’s clear admiration for Farage will also be a huge factor.

Dishonesty is another shared trait in the Johnson-Trump-Farage nexus. Johnson is being taken to court for the lies he told in the EU referendum campaign. Farage pumped out lies in 2016 too, creating myths around Turkey and immigration. Trump’s negligent relationship with the truth is notorious.

As Gordon Brown wrote in the Guardian this week, Farage’s recent successes have created a “new dividing line” in our country over “what kind of Britain we want to become”. For those who want a tolerant, fair-minded and outward-looking country, a protest against Trump is a protest against intolerance, dishonest politics, Farage, Johnson and Brexit.

So take to the streets on June 4. Bring your friends and family. And make it very clear that the Britain Trump wants is not the Britain its people want to live in.

Demand a vote on the Brexit deal

Click here to find out more

Edited by Hugo Dixon