Trump-ally Farage waits in the wings as the UK hunts for a leader

Anna Rosenberg

 

Trump-ally Farage waits in the wings as the UK hunts for a leader

The man who President Donald Trump quietly met in London this week looks well positioned to set the tone of the U.K.’s fractured political scene.

Nigel Farage successfully spearheaded a campaign over several years to remove Britain from the EU by forcing the mainstream Conservative Party to hold a referendum. After the vote to leave won, the U.K. was meant to leave the trading bloc at the end of March 2019, but has still not achieved that goal.

Tapping into the apparent public anger at the failure to leave the EU on the original date, Farage has returned to center-stage, leading a newly-formed outfit known as the Brexit Party.

Just six weeks after its registration, the Brexit Party contested the 2019 European Parliament election in late May, taking more than 30% of votes in the U.K. to become the largest single party across Europe.

On Friday, Farage stood outside 10 Downing Street holding a letter to outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May which reportedlys implores May to include Farage in any future Brexit negotiations. Potentially a strange request given that May is stepping down as Conservative leader on the same day and that Farage has recently said he supports no deal at all with Europe.

Prior to arriving in the United Kingdom for a state visit, Trump told reporters that the Brexit Party leader’s success showed that he should now be involved in exit talks with the EU.

“He is a very smart person,” he told the Sunday Times, before adding, “They won’t bring him. Think how well they would do if they did. They just haven’t figured that out yet.”

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