Donald Trump hails Brexit vote in Scotland visit

Donald Trump, in a visit to Scotland, hailed Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, drawing parallels to the anger driving his own presidential campaign.

“I love to see people take their country back,” he told reporters at a news conference at one of his golf courses in Scotland. “And that’s really what’s happening in the United States” and other parts of the world.

The campaign leading to Thursday’s stunning vote for Britain to leave the European Union shared some of the populist themes driving the Trump campaign, including a wariness of immigration, concern about borders, and scepticism of the value of multinational organisations.

“People want to see borders. They don’t necessarily want people pouring into their country that they don’t know who they are and where they come from,” Trump said.

Trump also predicted that other nations will follow the United Kingdom’s lead.

“This will not be the last,” he said earlier at a ceremony to mark the reopening of a golf resort he owns on Scotland’s west coast. “They’re angry about many, many things.”

Trump, who called the vote “historic” and “a great thing,” said earlier this week that he hadn’t closely followed the so-called Brexit vote but he had come out in support of the ‘Leave’ movement.

At the new conference, he described British Prime Minister David Cameron as “a good man” who was wrong on the Brexit issue. “He didn’t get the mood of his country right.”

Anti-EU nationalists around Europe, energised by the British Leave campaign that took on and defeated the political and business establishment, are already demanding their own referendums on EU membership or on whether to abandon the euro.

Poland’s Europe minister, Konrad Szymanski, a member of a eurosceptic nationalist government that has clashed with Brussels over the rule of law since it was elected last year, said the EU risked losing more members if it did not reform.

EU diplomats point to Denmark, the Netherlands and possibly France as states where political pressure for a British-style vote will be strongest, but they see no chain reaction of other countries voting to secede.

Continental governments are likely to reject calls for plebiscites, but they all face a similar angry public mood, fuelled by fear of globalisation, falling living standards for many poorer workers and anxiety over immigration.

Comedian Simon Brodkin disrupts a press conference being held by US presidential hopeful Donald Trump in South Ayrshire
Comedian Simon Brodkin disrupts a press conference being held by US presidential hopeful Donald Trump in South Ayrshire

Those same forces have propelled Trump to the brink of the Republican nomination for the U.S. presidential election.

Since its inception, and especially since France rejected a European defence community in 1954, European unity has been a political project promoted through economic interdependence.

“Europe advances in disguise,” Jacques Delors, the architect of the EU’s single market and common currency, famously said.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the EU should be reformed to concentrate on the economy. Others in France and Germany want to see it do more to control Europe’s external borders and manage migration to address citizens’ concerns.

Yet migration policy is deeply divisive.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who defied Brussels by shutting out migrants, plans a referendum in October to reject EU policy of sharing out quotas of asylum seekers stranded in Greece and Italy.

France’s far right National Front party called for a French referendum on European Union membership, cheering a Brexit vote it hopes can boost its eurosceptic agenda at home.

The anti-immigrant, anti-euro FN, was the only major French political party to call for Britons to vote to leave the EU.

“Victory for freedom!” said FN chief Marine Le Pen, who displayed the British flag on her Twitter page. “We now need to hold the same referendum in France and in (other) EU countries.”

Her deputy Florian Philippot said it was now France’s turn to vote to leave the EU. “The liberty of peoples always wins in the end! Bravo to the United Kingdom,” he wrote on Twitter. “Our turn now #Brexit #Frexit.”

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