LONDON: Anti-European populist Nigel Farage urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday to follow Donald Trump’s advice and form a “non-aggression” pact with his Brexit Party in Britain’s pre-Christmas general election.
The US president used a lengthy appearance on Farage’s radio phone-in show on Thursday to share his characteristically blunt views ahead of Britain’s December 12 snap elections.
“I know that you and (Johnson) will end up doing something that could be terrific if you and he get together as, you know, an unstoppable force,” Trump told Farage.
Trump also warned Johnson on Thursday that the terms of his EU divorce deal meant that “under certain aspect... you can’t trade” with the United States.
The US president’s unannounced intervention turned into top UK news and put Farage in the headlines just as he launched his party’s official campaign in London.
It also threatened to hurt Johnson at the onset of an election campaign that carries massive repercussions for Britain’s future place Europe and the rest of the world.
Both Trump and Farage are deeply polarising figures in Britain who could hurt Johnson’s chances with more moderate voters.
Johnson also claims that his revised deal with Brussels will allow Britain to strike lucrative free-trade agreements with global giants such as China and the United States.
Downing Street moved quickly to try to shoot down Trump’s trade warning and dismiss talk of an alliance with Farage.
“We can strike our own free trade deals around the world from which every part of the UK will benefit,” it said in a statement on Friday.
“We are not interested in doing any pacts with the Brexit Party, or, indeed with anybody else,” cabinet minister Robert Jenrick told BBC radio Friday.
But Farage seized on Trump’s remarks and made several references to it at Friday’s campaign event.
He urged Johnson to rip up his deal and campaign with his Brexit Party for Britain to leave EU with almost no strings attached — a prospect that frightens businesses and the markets.
“If it was done, Boris Johnson really would get a really big majority. And on that manifesto, we really could get Brexit done — in fact, to quote a friend of mine, we’d become an unstoppable force,” Farage told his supporters.
Johnson has publicly resisted the idea of forming an official union with Farage.
The Brexit Party has seen its support slump to around 10 percent from the 31 percent it enjoyed when it won the British share of votes in European Parliament elections in May.
Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2019