Brexit leader Farage offers backing to Trump

Brexit leader Nigel Farage addresses a Donald Trump rally in Mississipi, where he praises Trump and bashes Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump, left, listens to United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage speak during a campaign rally at the Mississippi Coliseum on August 24, 2016 in Jackson, Mississippi. Image: AFP.

British politician Nigel Farage, a leading figure in the successful Brexit campaign, lent his support to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at a rally in Mississipi on Wednesday, saying Trump represented the same kind of anti-establishment movement that he successfully implemented in his own country.

Farage appeared with Trump before a crowd of thousands at the rally in Jackson, Mississipi. Farage expressed that his stance against mass immigration to Britain, which he says is leading to rapid change in his country, was partly behind his Brexit drive.

His appearance came as Trump sought to moderate his own hardline stance against illegal immigration.

In comments that were broadcast on Wednesday, Trump seemed to distance himself from his vow to deport millions of illegal immigrants, saying he would be willing to consider working with those who have complied with US laws while living in the country.

Trump called Farage to the stage in the middle of his appearance, shook his hand and handed over the microphone to him.

Farage said he would not actually endorse Trump because he did not want a repetition of what he called President Barack Obama's interference in British affairs when Obama urged Britons to vote to remain in the EU.

"I cannot possibly tell you how you should vote in this election. But you know I get it, I get it. I’m hearing you. But I will say this, if I was an American citizen I wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton if you paid me," Farage said.

"In fact, I wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton if she paid me," he added.

Brexit Leader Nigel Farage speaks during a Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump campaign rally in Jackson, Mississippi, US, August 24, 2016. Image: Reuters.

Trump has sought to support the Brexit movement, noting he had said before the June 23 referendum that Britons should vote to leave.

He visited one of his golf courses in Scotland the day after the vote and gloated about predicting the outcome, calling it a sign his own campaign would be successful.

Trump has since lost popularity in national opinion polls and is fighting to remain competitive with Democratic rival Clinton, with a bit over two months to go until the Nov. 8 election.

"November 8 is our chance to redeclare American independence," Trump said, repeating a phrase Farage used during the Brexit campaign.

Farage drew attention to the similarities between the Brexit movement and the support Trump is receiving from many Americans who feel let down by Washington. 

"They feel people aren’t standing up for them and they have in many cases given up on the whole electoral process and I think you have a fantastic opportunity here with this campaign," he said.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump shakes hands with Member of the European Parliament Nigel Farage at a campaign rally in Jackson, Mississipi, Aug 24, 2016. Image: Reuters.

Trump, who defeated 16 rivals for the Republican presidential nomination partly based on his opposition to illegal immigrants, said he would not allow for the granting of American citizenship to the undocumented population and that he would expel those who break the law.

To be eligible to stay in the United States, Trump said, illegal immigrants would have to pay back taxes. 

"No citizenship. Let me go a step further - they'll pay back taxes, they have to pay taxes, there's no amnesty, as such, there's no amnesty, but we work with them," Trump said.

"But when I go through and I meet thousands and thousands of people on this subject, and I've had very strong people come up to me ... and they've said: 'Mr. Trump, I love you, but to take a person who's been here for 15 or 20 years and throw them and their family out, it's so tough, Mr. Trump,'" Trump said. "It's a very hard thing."

Trump said he would make his position clear soon.

“Well, I’m going to announce something over the next two weeks, but it’s going to be a very firm policy,” Trump told WPEC, a CBS affiliate in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Trump's new position seemed to bare a resemblance in some ways to the failed 2007 reform push by former Republican President George W. Bush. That effort presented a way to bring millions "out of the shadows" without amnesty and would have entailed illegal immigrants pay a fine and take other steps towards gaining legal status.

TRTWorld and agencies