"The Brexiteers have been inspired by Trump's relentless use of immigration to attract vulnerable workers and outright racists to simple solutions"
06 June 2016 12:00 AM

The British culture war: Brexit is the new Trump

06 June 2016

It should come as no surprise that Donald Trump arrives in the UK the day before the EU referendum. The rhetoric of the Brexiteers has become so similar to his own that it must function as some sort of mermaids' song.

There was a time, back at the start of the campaign, when you could imagine parts of the liberal left getting on board with Brexit. After all, the grotesque spectacle of Germany acting as the enforcer of Greece's indefinite financial punishment had finally woken many up to what the project entailed in practical terms. There is a strong argument against the centralisation of power, lack of accountability and enforcement of privatisation which the EU entails. That was starting to be understood across the political spectrum, rather than just on the little Englander right and the further reaches of the trade union left.

Vote Leave once seemed to recognise this and split from Leave.EU in order to deliver a broader, more inclusive brand of euroscepticism than what Nigel Farage had to offer. And even Farage once recognised that a referendum on the EU couldn't be won unless the left was on board.

But they've given that up. Brexit is now the new Trump. It is a culture war against globalisation into closed regional identity: exactly as we see in the US, or in countless European countries experiencing a rise in the far right. It is part of the great political issue of our age: the backlash against the global movement of ideas, people and products.

Iain Duncan Smith even laid the groundwork for future cooperation with Trump in a radio interview last week. He cited the Republican party's Paul Ryan as thinking Trump was a "very decent man" and strongly implied he'd vote for him over Clinton. These are the first tentative steps towards a common ground between his brand of demagoguery and British Conservatism.

The Brexiteers have been inspired by Trump's relentless use of immigration to attract vulnerable workers and outright racists to simple solutions. The idea of a positive, upbeat message is gone. Every event, every speech, every media comment is about immigration. Yesterday, Farage was highlighting the "

Next article

Related articles