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 Thursday to share his characteristically blunt views ahead of the December 12 snap poll.
“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 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 outset of a campaign that has huge implications for Britain’s future place in Europe and the rest of the world.
Both Trump and Farage are deeply polarizing figures in Britain who could hurt Johnson’s chances with more moderate voters.
Johnson 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.
– ‘Not interested in any pacts’ –
Johnson shot down Trump’s trade warning, telling the BBC that his deal “enables us to do proper all-singing, all-dancing free-trade deals around the world” and dismissed talk of an alliance with Farage.
“The difficulty about doing deals with any other party is that any other party, I’m afraid, simply risks… putting Jeremy Corbyn into Number 10,” he said.
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 with Brussels and campaign with his Brexit Party for Britain to leave EU with no strings attached — a prospect that frightens most 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 a tie-up with Farage.
The Brexit Party has seen its support slump to around 10 percent from the 31 percent it enjoyed when it won the largest share of British votes in European Parliament elections in May.
– Targeting Labour voters –
Farage argued that Johnson will need his help to win over Brexit-supporting voters who traditionally back Labour and reject the Conservatives for “cultural” reasons.
“It would be fair to say there are around about 150 seats in this country that are Labour Leave constituencies that the Conservative party has never, ever won in their history,” he said.
“I think a deal of this kind would work, a non-aggression pact of this kind would work,” Farage said, hoping that a clearer picture will emerge before election nominations close on November 14.
Johnson’s minority government currently holds 298 seats in the 650-seat lower House of Commons, forcing it to rely on smaller parties and independents for support.
Polls show Johnson’s Conservatives leading Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour by a 35 to 25 percent margin.
But Johnson is eyeing an outright majority to make pushing through his Brexit deal easier.
The Conservatives’ old alliance with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is in disarray because of sharp disagreement over the terms of Brexit deal.
The other smaller parties all back Europe and are more likely to try to form a coalition designed to stop Brexit.
Farage said there remained two weeks to put together a “leave alliance” but dismissed suggestions his party could split the anti-EU vote.
The party had the funding in place to “contest every single seat in England, Scotland and Wales” if Johnson turned him down.
“Please don’t doubt we are ready,” Farage said. “I hope that common sense prevails over the next new weeks.”
MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace chuckles after Times reporter explains why Trump has no hope of pivoting to an empathetic campaign
MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace struggled to stifle a chuckle in a conversation about President Donald Trump's struggle to run a campaign that can contend with most Americans' needs in a horrific pandemic.
"I think to Nick [Confessore's] point earlier, there should be a sense of nervousness in Trump's camp," began Democratic strategist Basil Smikle. "You don't see -- you talked about enablers. You don't see Republicans engaged in their behavior with respect to the president at this juncture. You're starting to see them not nationalize he's the president of the United States. They should be more allied with him, but instead, they're focused on local campaigns. The president has lost several cases at the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act case notwithstanding. There's a lot of things they should be rallying around, but they can't."
Texas GOP sues Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner over canceled in-person convention
The gathering, which was estimated to draw around 6,000 people, was set to happen next week in Houston.
The Republican Party of Texas is suing Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and others involved with the canceling of the party's in-person convention, which was scheduled to happen next week.
On Wednesday, Houston First Corporation, the operator of the George R. Brown Convention Center, sent a letter to party officials informing them that the event had been canceled. That cancelation happened after Turner announced he was directing the city's legal department to work with Houston First to review the contract for the event.
Texas bans elective surgeries in more than 100 counties as coronavirus hospitalizations keep climbing
Gov. Greg Abbott said the decision is designed to free up more resources to address the pandemic.
With cases of the new coronavirus and related hospitalizations rising at alarming rates, Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday expanded his ban on elective medical procedures to cover more than 100 counties across much of the state.
Surgeries and other procedures that are not “immediately, medically” necessary — which have already been on hold in many of the state’s biggest cities and several South Texas counties — are now barred in much of the state, from far West Texas to much of Central Texas, Southeast Texas and the Gulf Coast.