Nigel Farage is here in Cleveland at the Republican Convention. He’s enjoying himself, and why not? Britain has voted for Brexit, and he doesn’t have a party to run. He can bask.
Today he had lunch and a Q&A session with some fellow-minded conservatives on the Old River Road. They were all pleased as punch about Brexit, the Donald Trump thing, and the rise of anti-elite populism everywhere. ‘It looks like the perfect storm,’ Farage said, just before he sat down to eat. He was speaking to Steven King, a Republican congressman who recently got into hot water after he questioned the contribution non-white people had made to American history. The two men discussed the beauty of the imperial measurement system over the dull metric.
Farage was in an even more relaxed mood than usual. He told guests he ‘wasn’t surprised’ by the Brexit result, which was a little disingenuous, given that it’s well-known that he half-conceded defeat on the night of 23 June.
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The event was supposed to be about Brexit, and Farage gave the crowd the British freedom jubilation they wanted. ‘We won we won!’ he repeated. ‘We’ve taken our country back.’ ‘June 23,’ he told the Americans, ‘is our Independence Day.’ He admitted that Theresa May was not the Prime Minister he wanted, but said he felt confident that when she says ‘Brexit means Brexit’ she means it. ‘If by the 2020 general election, we haven’t got back our territorial fishing waters and immigration hasn’t fallen, then if you think you’ve seen fundamental change in British politics over the last month, you ain’t seen nothing yet.’ He then promised to hold the new government’s ‘feet to the fire’.
‘I mean Boris Johnson is Foreign Secretary ― how about that!’ he said, adding that Britain needed ‘somebody in these troubled times who goes around the world and makes us smile a bit.’
And what about Donald Trump? Farage insisted he wasn’t here to offer advice to Trump. He welcomed the Trump phenomenon: ‘There are things he’s said that make me a little uncomfortable,’ he said. ‘Perhaps that’s a cultural thing.’
‘It’s irrelevant that Trump is rich, if he is able to go into those communities and to have conversations with those people so that they feel he actually gets it. That’s the problem isn’t it? Brussels doesn’t get it, London doesn’t get it and I guess for these people, Washington doesn’t get it,’ he said.
The crowd adored Farage. ‘He’s wonderful,’ said a lady to me as she left. A Republican delegate added, ‘Man those Brits can talk.’ Which makes one wonder, might a career on American television beckon for the Nigel?