Brexit and the Rise of the British Trumps

Mehdi Hasan and Owen Jones discuss the fallout from the EU elections and the rise of British Trumpism.

Photo illustration: Soohee Cho/The Intercept, Getty Images

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This week’s EU Parliament elections sent political shockwaves across Europe, with far-right nationalist parties racking up major victories in France, Italy, and even the U.K. Established parties in Britain took a pounding as voters flocked to Nigel Farage’s newly-founded Brexit Party. Only days earlier, Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May resigned in the wake of repeated failures to secure a deal on Brexit. So where does all this leave the U.K.’s effort to withdraw from the European Union? And what can the U.S. — which in the midst of its own anti-immigrant populist moment — learn from the turmoil across the Atlantic? Guardian columnist Owen Jones joins Mehdi Hasan to talk about the rise of British Trumpism.

Mehdi Hasan: Hello, it’s Mehdi here. This month we’re taking a minute or so before each show to invite you to become a member of our podcast.

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Owen Jones: Nobody wants to compromise. I mean, that’s the sad, tragic reality. The compromise kind of ground in politics on Brexit just has been torched, incinerated. It has ceased to exist. It’s gone. And that I think is tragic.

[Music interlude.]

MH: Welcome to Deconstructed. I’m Mehdi Hasan. On today’s show, you think only Americans have it bad right now? You think Donald Trump is just an American phenomenon? Think again.

OJ: What we’re talking about with Trumpism is happening in this country. The scapegoating of migrants, rich charlatan snake-oil salesmen blaming anyone but those at the top of the society for the problems they’ve caused. The echoes are pretty powerful.

MH: That’s my guest today, the British newspaper columnist and acclaimed author Owen Jones. He went viral here in the U.S. after he refused to join the rest of the British media in showing sympathy for British Conservative prime minister Theresa May who cried as she finally resigned last Friday.

Newscaster: You can’t just respond on a human level?

OJ: I have responded on a human level. I’ve spoken about the humanity of those who have suffered as a consequence of her policies and I wish the news would give far more space to them rather than spending time discussing the prime minister crying because she can no longer hold the most powerful job in the country.

MH: So on today’s show, Owen and I are gonna talk Brexit madness, the shocking European Parliament election results, the end of Theresa May’s premiership, and the rise and rise of the British Trumps, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage. Basically everything you need to know about the shitshow on that side of the Atlantic which, as you’ll discover, isn’t that different from the shitshow on this side of it.

You remember Brexit, right? The decision by 52 percent of British voters in the summer of 2016 to exit the European Union — Britain’s biggest export market for goods, the world’s biggest single market, the group of 28 countries that has helped keep the peace on the continent of Europe since the Second World War, the club that Britain has been a member of for the past 46 years.

Yeah, that Brexit; which came as a shock to the political, economic and media establishments in the UK; which wasn’t supposed to happen; which was driven by angry white working class voters in the country’s industrial heartlands. Sound familiar?

Donald Trump, after all, was elected — as we’ve discussed on this show before and as the bulk of the academic studies have demonstrated — not merely because of so-called economic anxiety on the part of white voters but because of racial resentment, cultural insecurity, and a marked hostility to immigrants, to Muslims, to people of color. And those are the same forces that drove Brexit. Listen to this voter in the former industrial town of Barnsley the day after the Brexit referendum.

Voter: It’s all about immigration. It’s not about trade or Europe or anything like that. It’s about immigration. It’s to stop the Muslims from coming into this country, simple as that.

MH: And here’s a factoid for you: according to one study, there’s a close correlation between support for the death penalty, which was abolished in the UK, and support for Brexit. Which sounds kinda weird and random but it’s actually not that weird or random. It’s people harking back to an imagined, socially conservative, more orderly past.

Make America — and Britain — great again! In so many ways, Brexit and Trump are two sides of the same coin. In fact Trump has always been uber-keen to associate himself with the pro-Brexit vote.

Donald J. Trump: I think Brexit is going to end up being a great thing. People don’t want to have other people coming in and destroying their country.

DJT [at rally]: Look at Brexit. Look at Brexit. People want to take back control of their countrys. Call me Mr. Brexit.

MH: And just as the Trump presidency has been the disaster that Trump’s opponents warned it would be, in fact more of a disaster than any of us could have possibly imagined, the same with Brexit in the UK. To cut a long story short: the Leave side, the Brexit side, spent the entire referendum campaign in 2016 telling us that exiting the EU would be easy, a walk in the park, a simple negotiation. But guess what? It wasn’t! Turns out leaving is much harder than they thought. And the UK has now been in a state of permanent political crisis, and a bit of a global joke, for the past three years.

The prime minister Theresa May three times tried to get a Brexit deal through parliament, three times she failed; multiple ministers of hers quit in protest; multiple multinational corporations and big banks have upped and left the UK because they want to keep their access to the EU single market. Britain is now close to a no deal Brexit, a no deal Brexit where it just crashes out of the EU on October 31st with no deal, no negotiations, no safety net in place, and which every serious economist and analyst thinks would be an economic disaster for the UK.

I’ll be honest: Sitting here in the U.S., watching my home country fall apart in this way, walk towards the edge of the cliff in this way, engaging in this unprecedented act of political, social, and economic self-harm, has been deeply depressing for me. Racism and xenophobia has been on the rise across the UK in recent years. The country is more divided, more polarized, now than it was even in the summer of 2016.

Protesters: Shame on you! Shame on you! Shame on you! MPs! Traitors! MPs! Traitors!

MH: Traitors. Again, sound familiar? Prime Minister May finally called it quits last Friday.

Theresa May: I do so with no ill will but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love.

MH: But then came the political earthquake.

Newscaster: European parties are now jockeying for a position after Sunday’s elections to the EU parliament tilted the balance of power in the block.

Newscaster: Far-right parties topped the polls in both France and in Italy.

Newscaster: Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party claims an overwhelming victory.

MH: On Sunday night, we got the results of the European Parliament elections. In France, the far-right National Rally party of Marine Le Pen came first, ahead of President Macron’s party; in Italy, the far-right Lega Party, led by the Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, also came first. And guess who advises them both? A familiar name from Trumpworld: yeah, Steve Bannon.

In the UK, a brand new right wing party called the Brexit Party, which was set up just a few months ago with the explicit intent of making Brexit happen, a “no deal” Brexit even, came first in the European elections, winning as many votes as the mainstream Labour and Liberal Democrat parties combined. The founder of the Brexit Party is Nigel Farage, a former leader of the anti-immigration, anti-EU UK Independence Party, UKIP; a close ally of Donald Trump; the first British politician to get a meeting with Trump after he was elected president; and a man who has spent his entire adult life, not just railing against immigrants and foreigners, but trying to get the UK out of Europe.

Nigel Farage: Let June the 23rd go down in our history as our Independence Day.

[Crowd cheers.]

MH: Guess who else is now campaigning basically for a no deal Brexit? The man who is on course to be the next Conservative prime minister of the UK, former foreign secretary and former London mayor Boris Johnson. He’s been called the British Trump: a divisive, opportunistic, wannabe populist, with dishevelled blond hair, and a long history of adultery, racism and serial dishonesty. Born in the U.S., he’s talked about quote “admiring Trump” and the U.S. president in turn has declared Boris, as he’s known, to be “a friend of mine”.

Boris Johnson: We in the United Kingdom will work hand and glove for the stability, the prosperity and the security of the world with President Donald Trump.

MH: Boris, like Farage, like Trump, thrives on chaos, on division, on disinformation. These people don’t do detail. They don’t do principle. They do chaos. And, as I wrote for The Intercept last year, “Trump and Brexit have chaos in common.” It’s not just a bug, it’s a feature.

[Music interlude.]

MH: Joining me now from London to talk about the rise of the British Trumps, and Brexit, and what it all means for the UK, for the U.S., for the world, is my good friend, the Guardian columnist, best-selling author and proud British socialist, Owen Jones, who’s been attending Brexit parties and rallies to find out what’s really going on with these people. How Trumpian are they really?

Owen, thanks for coming on Deconstructed.

OJ: What a pleasure. This is a huge honor, Mehdi. I miss you, Mehdi. You’ve been snatched cruelly from our British, loving arms.

MH: I miss you too. But I enjoy watching you on British television from afar, taking names. So, on that note, first off, commiserations to you back home on Prime Minister Theresa May announcing her resignation. You seem to have taken that pretty hard. She meant a lot to you, didn’t she?

OJ: Absolutely, I nearly started singing Elton John’s Candle in the Wind to mourn her passing. Yeah, it was apparently, it was a bit, it was supposed to be like a royal death that we were supposed to somehow treat this as a terrible personal tragedy for which we must enter a profound period of collective mourning. Which of course, you know, I very much, I think, threw myself into the spirit of, definitely kept to the script of this outpouring of emotion at this poor victim who happened to be the most powerful person in the country enacting policies, which have destroyed the lives of huge numbers of people who apparently we shouldn’t be spending any time talking about.

MH: Yeah, it’s kind of like — it’s always a kind of, this is not the moment for it. When is the moment for it? When the prime minister stands down, isn’t that the moment to look at her or his legacy?

OJ: That’s the thing. Yeah, I mean, it’s bad enough when they die. So, when Margaret Thatcher died, which I always dreaded because Margaret Thatcher, you know, founded the kind of political consensus which you know, I would say is the root of the many ills that Britain is, you know, Britain is in turmoil and it goes back to her policies — market fundamentalism, that kind of stuff. But when she died and I dreaded it because I thought it would end up being like the death of Princess Diana meets a month-long conservative political broadcast, which is basically what it was and it was this sense of, if you use — if you talk about you know, when she died, the actual record, it was seen as a kind of outrageous, disgraceful, politicizing her death.

MH: Same, same happened here when John McCain and George Bush Sr. died. We did a show, I did a show with Glenn Greenwald on Deconstructed where we talked about George Bush Sr.’s legacy where no one wanted to talk about all the shit he did. And the same applies now when Theresa May cries and says I tried really hard but she had a horrible three-year record. This is not even George Bush Sr. from 20, 30 years ago. This is like now.

OJ: But that’s what’s even more perverse.

MH: We’ve seen the Brexit car crash in front of our eyes.

OJ: Exactly. So it’s not even you know, that somebody has died. I mean, even then we should be talking about the political record not whitewashing their record and allowing their supporters to use their death to kind of define their legacy. But we’re talking quite literally about somebody losing their job, the most powerful position in the country because they were very, very, very, very, very bad at it.

MH: Very bad at it. She’s probably the worst prime minister in living memory. So good riddance now, I think it’s fair to say to Theresa May. Who will replace May as prime minister? Will it be the British Trump, as he’s been described by some, the former foreign secretary, former London mayor, Old Etonian, Alexander Boris De Pfeffel Johnson?

OJ: Tragically, I do believe that our own pound-shop Trump is about to take over. I mean, I don’t know how to describe him for an American audience. I really don’t. I mean, when he was made foreign — I mean, one of the worst things, Theresa May did a lot of terrible things. She drove children into poverty at the fastest rate since 1988. She stripped, basically drove Windrush Britons — these were black Britons who arrived in Britain decades ago. She drove them out their home, stripping their medical care, deported them from the country. I mean, we could go on. It was terrible. But one of the worst thing she did was make Boris Johnson foreign secretary. That was bad enough.

You know, he is a joke without a punch line. He once described black people as pickaninnies with watermelon smiles. He once said that if we’re going to have equal marriage, why not have two men marrying a goat? He talked about Muslim women as letterboxes and bank robbers which led to a surge in hate crimes against Muslim women, including people shoving envelopes through their veils. I mean, he is somebody who is a charlatan. He was sacked by a newspaper, The Times, for lying.

MH: For making up quotes, didn’t he? That sounds familiar. A leader who just makes up quotes. Hmm, never heard that before.

OJ: Just made them up, woof. And then he was sacked by the conservative leader over a decade ago for lying about an affair he’d had.

MH: And he continues to fail upwards.

OJ: Exactly and he’s now —

MH: And now he’s getting the top job he’s dreamt about since he was a kid.

OJ: Oh, it’s just a nightmare which you’d think we’ve reached our lowest ebb and yet —

MH: You’d think after Cameron, May, but no, the Conservatives give us Boris. Is he a British Trump because clearly he’s not as dumb as Trump?

OJ: Well, I don’t — Actually, you know what? I don’t know about that. I mean, I suppose Trump on his own. I mean, you could say — I mean, look, I mean, you know Trump didn’t win the popular vote, but he was seen as a candidate who could never possibly win a presidential election and well, he did. I think the thing with Boris Johnson is I mean, I mean — he’s very similar in a way in that he’s a charlatan for whom normal rules don’t apply. So, for any normal politician just one scandal — I mean, once, he was you know, there’s a recording of a phone conversation where he talked with a friend discussing beating up a journalist. Any other politician, you know, we had a leader of the Labour Party Ed Miliband, who you wrote a biography about, who basically his political career was basically partly destroyed because he ate a bacon sandwich weirdly once. I know your listeners are probably thinking “Come on, he’s exaggerating.”

MH: There’s pictures of it all over the internet. It destroyed his credibility.

OJ: It genuinely had a massive impact in destroying him —

MH: If Boris Johnson can be caught on tape saying beat, you know, he’ll help someone beat up a guy, an innocent person and that doesn’t damage his career. In fact, he’s on course to be prime minister.

OJ: Exactly, sacked twice for lying. I mean, you know, I mean, it’s just —

MH: The similarities are there, definitely and I think the British Trump appellation applies. What about another British Trump? What about Nigel Farage? Were you surprised to see him lead the Brexit Party to victory on Sunday when the European election results came out?

OJ: No, I wasn’t at all. I mean, Farage is just pure unadulterated poison. And in terms of obviously, you know, there are many architects. I mean, it really has been a team effort plunging Britain into its current calamity and it is a time of unprecedented turmoil since World War II, Britain at the moment. And what Farage did you know, he’s somebody who has injected into the political mainstream a very, very vicious nasty anti-migrant politics. UKIP was this party, what was a tiny party but it started climbing in the polls. And what David Cameron the Prime Minister did — because there was a kind of double pronged attack by kind of, unhinged, right wing, Tory, Brexiteers on the back benches and Farage.

So, he said well, you know, because he feared if he didn’t he wouldn’t win a majority in the election in 2015. He didn’t win the majority in 2010. So, we had to go into the coalition with the Lib Dems, Liberal Democrats, and he thought — he just threw this red meat which he thought would satisfy his Tory Brexiteers, but it just made them hungrier and fatter and what it did with Farage is this idea. He thought, Cameron, he was a genius. He popped the UKIP bubble. That would be the end of Farage, but instead it, you know, the more both Labour and the Torys spoke about clamping down on immigration, it just drove it up as an issue, made people more likely to support UKIP and Nigel Farage and then it ended up of course, with a referendum which was called basically to satisfy the Tory Brexiteers —

MH: And you have conservative voters last week defecting in their hundreds of thousands to this Brexit Party because they want the real deal not the light version. In the same way that Republicans kind of indulged a right wing base with crazy conspiracy theories and anti-immigrant sentiment and then they were shocked when Donald Trump came along and beat all their establishment leaders.

OJ: During the referendum campaign, the idea so, you know, now, what’s being portrayed by Nigel Farage and other Brexiters, the only real deal Brexit, the only proper Brexit is a no deal Brexit. We leave the EU without negotiating any deal with them which is stupid because it would be absolutely disastrous for the economy, but now Farage has made that, he’s helped make it, an alliance with the Tory Right, the only real Brexit, everything else is a sellout, everything else is a capitulation of surrender.

MH: Treason — And you hear the same rhetoric: treason, enemies of the people, saboteurs.

OJ: Crush the saboteurs. I mean, these are all the rhetoric you know, which is the likes of Theresa — I mean, you know, infamously, it was the front page of The Daily Mail that said “Enemies of the People” which was about these judges who said there needed to be scrutiny about, parliamentary scrutiny about leaving the EU. The person who wrote that ended up Teresa May’s press spokesperson —

MH: Let me ask you this: was this imported from the U.S.? Because Farage has hinted in recent interviews that it was or was Britain always like this?

OJ: It’s a bit of both. I mean, I think there’s a positive feedback loop going on there, to be honest. I think, I mean, I think it’s worth emphasizing Trump is really, really, really, really unpopular in this country. Millions of people who voted to leave have contempt for Donald Trump. It’s not like the 52 percent of people that voted leave are Trumpians. It’s just not the case at all, but there is obviously a big chunk of people who have been screwed over, the economy is rigged against them. They’re angry. They’re upset. The industry vanished in the ’80s onwards because of Thatcher and everything else and you know, and the danger is if there isn’t a radical alternative to that, then the likes of Farage and Trump in some cases fill that vacuum.

MH: Who are both con artists not offering these people who were screwed over any kind of solutions. I mean, Farage, like Trump former finance guy, he was in banking now pretends to be a tribune of the working class, the white working class that is. Trump calls himself the blue-collar billionaire and people fall for it.

OJ: Yeah, exactly. I mean, I remember, you know in America, in New York on the day of the inauguration and someone described Trump as a self-made billionaire. I said, hang on his dad was a millionaire. He went: “Yeah, his dad was a millionaire. He’s now a billionaire. He’s a self-made billionaire.” I just thought how do I even engage with this? But yeah, I mean, it’s exactly it. Farage is a privately-educated, Tory boy who quit the Tories because Thatcher was no longer leader. His party’s bankrolled by millionaires.

His new Brexit Party in their constitution is committed — I mean, no one knows this because they don’t yell about it — but it’s committed to you know, mass privatization, cuts, tax cuts for the rich, and so on which a former ally of his, a former MEP for UKIP has actually just condemned him for. So you’ve got this perverse kind of, we’re going to get — We’ll blame the migrant, blame the refugee, blame the Muslim for all the injustices caused by the very people who actually bankrolled people like myself.

MH: So, the question, Owen: what is the future for Brexit? Britain was supposed to leave the EU on March 29th. It’s now been delayed to October 31st. Is it ever going to happen? Is there going to be a second referendum? Is there going to be a general election? People say if you stop it, there’ll be riots. You know, this is implicit: if you don’t do Brexit, people are going to write and say you betrayed us. You know, you’re going against the will of the people, all this stuff. Even though, and I’ve personally never liked referendums to begin with. I think they’re un- British. I think they used — You know, Clement Attlee, the former British prime minister once said they’re the device of dictators and demagogues. You can’t decide complicated issues in this simplistic binary way, but there you go. They did a referendum in 2016. If Brexit doesn’t happen, is that going to lead to kind of riots, violence what?

OJ: Well, I’m loathe to go down that route because you know, I mean we already have the far-right, obviously on the rise and the traditional, you know, the traditional far-right trope is always the stab-in-the-back myth. Basically a grand national project, normally war, has been subverted by internal traitors and a lack of grit and determination. And obviously, that’s what they’re feeding on. They’re already feeding on that now, but we don’t, we should never, I don’t think, judging politics, we can’t provoke the far-right, basically, so we won’t do, we’ll let them get their own way. The vast majority of people who vote Brexit are not far right—

MH: It’s like the Trump base. It’s like the debate in the U.S. right now. We can’t impeach Trump, say the Democrats, because it will inflame his base and A, you shouldn’t make decisions based on other people’s basis but also they’re inflamed anyway.

OJ: Exactly.

MH: It’s not like the far-right need an excuse to get worked up.

OJ: Exactly. I mean, you know what? I mean, the problem is there’s no easy answer here because if I never live through another referendum again, I would be a very, very happy man. They are dreadful.

MH: Do you think Brexit is going to happen?

OJ: I genuinely am not sure anymore. I’m genuinely not sure. I think now what might happen is the next Tory leader has to be elected by what remains of Tory membership which has collapsed basically to a bunch of racist grannies. I don’t want to be, I’m not being ageist there because most grannies are lovely and not racist. But they’re a very small membership. And the next Tory leader to win them over has to be the most extreme possible on Brexit and that means no deal Brexit. But Parliament — there’s no majority in Parliament for no deal. So, the only way of getting around that is to have another referendum with no deal on the ballot paper or to call an election. Now, if we had no deal —

MH: If you call an election, right, if you call an election, you want Jeremy Corbyn to be prime minister, right? The Labour leader who is a socialist like yourself, but you voted remain. He says he voted remain but it’s very clear his heart was never in it. He’s never been a supporter of the EU. He’s a lifelong Euro-skeptic. A lot of people say he’s partly to blame for the mess with because he didn’t take a stronger stance in favor of staying in the European Union.

OJ: I completely disagree with that. I think you know, he was a —

MH: You think he campaigned to the utmost of his ability in 2016 and since then he’s taken a strong enough stance?

OJ: Yeah, I mean, I think he’s a left Euro-skeptic. So am I. I mean, I’m a Euro-skeptic who campaigned to remain and anyone who thinks you know, that most people who voted remain are the sort of people who kind of, you know, will put face paint of the EU flag on their face and go around singing the National Anthem Ode to Joy, that’s just not where most people are at. And I think what Labour did in that referendum was to try and link or connect or tap into where lots of people are. Look, we all have reservations about the EU but it’s better we stay in it. The problem with the referendum campaign was it was framed as an internal Tory—

MH: Do you think he actually believes that it’s better to stay in or is he okay with Brexit? Like a lot people are not okay with Brexit. I know you said red lines, forget the red lines. I’m not okay with Brexit. I’d be deeply depressed if and when the UK leaves the EU for multiple political, economic, social, cultural reasons. I don’t think Jeremy Corbyn would.

OJ: I just don’t think it’s a red line for him in a way it is for lots of other people. I think, I mean he did campaign for remain —

MH: Even given the far-right fallout we’ve seen post-Brexit, a rise in hate crimes, xenophobia, far-right groups recruiting?

OJ: But I think the dilemma Labour had was — I mean look, the left was always accused of being too pure as in you know, we put principal ahead of power and and then Labour were trying to come up with a majority of “Look, we lost the referendum but let’s try and come up with a compromise that brings the country together and let’s try it you know, the only way we’ll win an election is by people who voted both ways.” That was their strategy. The problem is that strategy’s collapsed because nobody wants to compromise. I mean, that’s the sad tragic reality. The compromise kind of ground in politics on Brexit just has been torched, incinerated. It is a smoking, it has ceased to exist. It’s gone and that I think, is tragic. So, I think now Labour have no option and I think this is what they’re going to do but to pivot into supporting another referendum. That’s fraught with problems, Mehdi. There’s not a majority in Parliament for one. It doesn’t matter. You know, Labour have —

MH: And we don’t know what the result of a campaign would be.

OJ: I think we’d lose. There’s a very big chance we’d lose again, and that would be a catastrophic situation.

MH: I wouldn’t be surprised. It could go either way. Again, as with Trump, there’s a very good chance he could be re-elected next year despite all the unpopularity. Let me ask you this before we wrap up: why should Americans or anyone else in the world give a damn about what’s happening in good old Blighty and good old Great Britain? I mean, I think we can all agree the sun long ago set on the British Empire, so why is it such a massive story? Why does it matter so much?

OJ: I mean, you know, we’ve got to join the dots. You know, Trump is coming to you know, Britain on a state visit. I’m helping to organize the mass protest against it and what we’re arguing is look, what we’re talking about with Trumpism is happening in this country: the scapegoating of migrants, rich charlatan snake-oil salesmen blaming anyone but those at the top of society for the problems they’ve caused. So, obviously the same things are happening. They’re not in the exact same way, but they’re pretty, the echoes are pretty, pretty powerful. And I think, you know in both America and Britain though, I think there’s actually hope and I think you know, if you look at the Sanders and AOC movements and the rise of the British left, they both learned quite a lot from each other, I think and are learning a lot from each other.

And I actually think, despite the absolute mess — let’s just be brutally honest — both of our countries are currently in, we’re spinning around in turmoil at the moment partly because of this right wing toxic “blame migrants for all the problems in society”. And the irony is of course, migrant scapegoating has caused far more turmoil than migrants ever have. That’s why partly both countries are in the mess they’re in but actually there is hope in both countries. And I think now given I think, in the western world, there’s a massive struggle going on between politics like Trump’s like, you know, Farage like the National Front in France, like even Spain now Vox, but there is another which is the, you know, as I say, the Corbyn, Sanders, AOC. In Spain, the left just suffered setbacks unfortunately, but there is a left there. And I think we need to link our struggles together and learn from each other because if another crash happens, we shouldn’t ride that out in the coming years. We’re overdue one.

The danger is they are ready and waiting. They’ve got a story. They’ve got a narrative and they are becoming international. Steve Bannon is going around trying to stitch together an international far-right movement including with Farage and indeed, he’s spoken to Boris Johnson and other frontrunners for the Tory leadership. So, because they’ve gone international, they’re linking together. We’ve got to do the same thing as well. We’ve got to link up our struggles. We’ve got to link up our movements and because you know, the danger is, the rise of the far-right is a threat to migrants and minorities and a threat to our democracies and we need to take that seriously. We need a common united international front to defeat it.

MH: I totally agree with all of that. One last question, you’re one of the organizers of the big anti-Trump rally next week. Donald Trump is visiting the UK for a three-day state visit. What is your message to Donald Trump? Because last time you came and there were protests, he claimed later to Piers Morgan that there were many, many protests in my favor?

OJ: Yeah, I think there was about 150. Yeah, I mean, just absolutely far-right weirdos who turned up, you know, the kind of incel-type people who leave weird comments online below YouTube posts. But no, we had about a quarter of a million people. Bear in mind, it was a weekday so people took time off work. One of the biggest weekday demonstrations we’ve had in this country. And you know, this time, our message is going to be again, and it’s not just about him. I hate this whole he’s this just big, vulgar, crass individual, you know, we’re going to say, we’re not just marching against you. We’re marching against what you stand for, what you represent: misogyny, transphobia anti, you know, the islamophobia and all the time when you shift wealth and power in the pockets of you and your friends and that politics is here in this country as well.

So, it’s not just about Trump. We are telling him to do one and last time around he avoided London because he was so scared about the protests. But we’re doing it, we’re not just making about him. We’re saying everyone who stands for this Trump, Salvini, Farage, we’re out to fight you and yeah, we’re going to, we’re going to kick your butts politically, in the years to come.

MH: I hope you do. Owen, good luck with Trump next week and good luck with Brexit for the rest of your life.

OJ: Thank you, amigo because we will be talking about it forever. Thank you.

MH: Cheers.

[Music interlude.]

MH: That was my friend, the journalist, commentator, columnist, author Owen Jones in the UK. Every time you think U.S. politics has won the award for craziest politics in the world, the Brits come along and say, hold my drink. It has been absolute madness there in recent years. It’s only getting madder which is why we decided to devote today’s show to Britain and Brexit and the British Trumps. And here’s what’s really depressing: in the U.S., you can get rid of Donald Trump next November. Worst-case scenario, he wins again. You can get rid of him four years after that. Brexit, if it happens, Brexit’s forever.

[Music interlude.]

MH: That’s our show! Deconstructed is a production of First Look Media and The Intercept. Our producer is Zach Young. The show was mixed by Rick Kwan. Leital Molad is our executive producer. Our theme music was composed by Bart Warshaw. Betsy Reed is The Intercept’s editor-in-chief.

And I’m Mehdi Hasan. You can follow me on Twitter @mehdirhasan. If you haven’t already, please do subscribe to the show so you can hear it every week. Go to to subscribe from your podcast platform of choice, iPhone, Android, whatever. If you’re subscribed already, please do leave us a rating or review – it helps people find the show. And if you want to give us feedback, email us at Thanks so much!

See you next week.

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