Nigel Farage, the former leader of the U.K. Independence Party and the campaign for Britain to leave the European Union, will speak on the growing international populist movement Monday at Hillsdale College.
“Mr. Farage is a great champion of independence and has fought the centralized bureaucratic state for a long time,” Matt Bell, director of programs for external affairs, said in an email. “In that sense, he defends the same liberty, albeit in a different geographic location, that Hillsdale seeks to defend.”
During his first visit to Hillsdale, Farage will deliver a talk titled “The Significance of Brexit and the Trump Victory” at 8 p.m. in the Searle Center for the college’s Churchill Conference, which is centered around the exhibition of the Churchill paintings and memorabilia in the Daughtrey Gallery.
Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn said he is personally interested in the connection between former Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the European Union.
“Churchill helped to found the EU. Because of that, he was used extensively by the Remain campaign,” Arnn said in an email. “In several things I read, they did not make plain that Churchill did not propose that Britain enter the EU, or the Common Market, nor did he imagine it having the scope it achieved.”
Assistant Professor of Politics John Grant agreed, saying Churchill would not have opposed relationships with other countries but would disagree with the role and size of the EU today.
“The EU is hostile to Europe,” Grant said. “Brussels [the headquarters of the EU], like Washington, D.C., is not there to serve the people it represents.”
Some have linked the populist revolutions central to President Donald Trump’s victory and Britain’s decision to leave the EU, especially because of Trump and Farage’s close relationship.
During the 2016 U.S. presidential race and since Trump’s election, Farage has voiced support for Trump, saying he would have voted for Trump, if he were a U.S. citizen. After Trump’s victory, Farage was the first British politician to visit Trump in his eponymous New York City tower, and Trump spoke in support of Farage becoming the British ambassador to the U.S., after his election.
“I think he’s a great guy, has very interesting thoughts, and seems like a man of action, and that’s what we need,” said freshman George Roberts, who is from Portsmouth, England. “We needed a little kick from somewhere, and Farage seemed to give that.”
Roberts said he voted to leave the EU, despite being split on the issue. He said he paid attention to both sides of the campaign and ultimately made his decision based on immigration.
“The main issue I was sucked into is the immigration fiasco,” Roberts said. “I saw all the troubles Germany was having, France was having, and I didn’t want that coming into England.”
Grant said he has already seen steps taken toward a greater relationship between England and the U.S. under Trump, referring to Trump’s decision to return the bust of Churchill to the Oval Office and his warm meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May.
Although Arnn said he does not personally know Farage, he looks forward to hearing his thoughts.
“He is an important figure in something happening in much of Europe,” Arnn said. “I am interested to meet him, and I expect others are, too.”