World / Politics

Steve Bannon sees 'friend' Nigel Farage in running to be British PM

AFP-JIJI

Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon said Monday he saw British Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage as being in the running to be prime minister later this year after his victory in European elections.

In an interview with AFP, Bannon described Farage as a “friend and colleague,” adding that he had spoken to him during campaigning and had been in touch since results on Sunday night showed his Brexit Party winning 31.6 percent of the vote.

“I congratulated him on a stunning victory,” Bannon said from a luxury hotel suite in Paris, where he has been staying during the final stage of the European Parliament election campaign.

Bannon, who has attempted to forge links between far-right parties in Europe since leaving the White House in August 2017, said he was now looking ahead to a midterm election for a parliamentary seat in eastern England on June 6.

Farage will test his Brexit Party’s new-found strength by fielding a candidate in the contest in the city of Peterborough.

“If he wins that seat and they have a member in Parliament, it will be pretty earth-shattering. So I think Nigel Farage right now is set up to be quite competitive to be prime minister of England in the fall of this year.”

In Britain’s European election, the ruling Conservatives finished fifth with 9 percent — their worst performance since 1832 — and the main opposition Labour Party was also punished for not clearly spelling out its Brexit stance.

Farage only registered his party in February, but succeeded in leveraging his reputation as one of the architects of the 2016 referendum that triggered Britain’s attempt to split from the EU.

He attributed his success Sunday to outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May’s failure to turn Brexit into a reality by its original March 29 deadline.

Despite Bannon’s prediction about Farage on Monday, many analysts in Britain see a general election as less likely than before.

The two main parties — the Conservatives and Labour — are seen as wanting to avoid a snap election after their drubbing in the European polls.

Farage became the first British politician to meet with Trump after his election in 2016, congratulating the billionaire in person in New York on his electoral defeat of Hillary Clinton.

Farage was photographed, open mouthed in delight, standing next to a tie-less Trump doing a thumbs-up sign in front of the tycoon’s gold elevator doors.

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