Leader of British movement to leave EU joins Trump at rally

Published 8:08 am Thursday, August 25, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. — Republican nominee Donald Trump is linking his “movement to take back the country” to Britain’s surprising vote to leave the European Union.

The architect of the withdrawal campaign, known as Brexit, joined the GOP presidential nominee on stage during a rally late Wednesday in Jackson, Mississippi.

“If I was an American citizen, I wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton if you paid me,” said Nigel Farage, the outgoing leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party.

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“You have a fantastic opportunity here,” he told members of the audience. “You can go out, you can beat the pollsters, you can beat the commentators, you can beat Washington, and you’ll do it by doing what we did for Brexit in Britain.’”

Only moments before, Farage had denounced President Barack Obama for urging the British, before the June 23 referendum, to reaffirm their commitment to the European Union, and said he would not try to influence the American election.

Farage helped propel his party from the political fringe to power broker. Over the past few years, it has won over large numbers of voters from other parties by appealing to concerns about globalization and large-scale immigration.

Farage, who had pushed for the June 23 referendum on whether Britain should remain in the European Union, stepped down as party leader shortly after his side won.

He was the subject of controversy in the hours after the vote, when he stepped back one of the key “leave” pledges that Britain should use the 350 million pounds a week it sends to the EU to fund the National Health Service instead. Asked if he could guarantee that 350 million pounds a week would go to health care, Farage answered: “No, I can’t.”

Trump said Farage’s appearance was an honor and that “the nation’s working people will take control again.”

The billionaire businessman noted the leave side trailed in opinion polls heading into the referendum, and Farage suggested that U.S. voters who might be keeping their personal views silent on the White House race will flock to Trump and propel him to victory.

Trump did support the leave moment, but only in the final days before the vote, after acknowledging earlier that he didn’t know much about the referendum.

“I was very supportive of their right to do it and take control of their own future like exactly what we’re going to be voting for on Nov. 8. November is our chance to redeclare American independence,” he said at the rally.

Farage predicted that Trump’s campaign would “smash the establishment,” prompting polite applause from rally-goers.