Mr Farage is grinning his way round Washington claiming that the British vote to leave the EU and the American vote for President Trump are two sides of the same coin. But he is wrong.
As I have said before (resulting in lots of abuse from people I thought were my friends), I have no right to tell Americans whom they should choose as their President. But that can’t stop me from noticing that many of Mr Trump’s policies strike me as being foolish. Were I an American I would be very frightened by his socialist attacks on free trade (as an Englishman I am definitely worried). We, in the UK, suffered horribly when Harold Wilson told us, in the 1960s, that it was our patriotic duty to “buy British”, even when British goods were vastly inferior to those produced abroad. Mr Trump apparently wants to inflict the misery of 1960s Britain on America (something President Reagan would have hated).
Is Mr Farage right to say that the popular vote to leave the EU was a vote for protectionism, for masses of tariffs, for an end to free trade? Of course he is not. Maybe he is right that quite a few people voted leave because they didn’t like foreigners. But it is nonsense to suggest they wanted to go back to old-fashioned socialist economic policies. Those of us who thought a little about the economy, rather than the more important arguments about sovereignty, disliked the EU because of its opposition to free trade (other than within its own borders). We were definitely not Trumpers. We wanted to trade with the world, not erect barriers to trade.
And is it really the case that those who voted leave shared Mr Trump’s dislike of NATO and love of Putin’s Russia? Obviously not. Our vote had nothing to do with the defence of the free world. It just didn’t arise. In so far as we were concerned about defence, we all thought NATO to be much more important than foolish EU attempts to replace it with a “common defence policy”. And the idea that decent British people wanted to help Putin to create a new Soviet Union is simply ludicrous.
But Mr Farage is not alone in having these fantasies. Sadly, many extreme supporters of rule from Brussels go along with the theory that those who favour Brexit are all Trumpers. Well, I am sorry, but they are just wrong.