Leader comment: Farage’s optimism over Trump has no credibility

Ukip interim leader Nigel Farage has tried to claim the UK will benefit from Donald Trump's election because of the new president's links with Scotland.
Ukip interim leader Nigel Farage has tried to claim the UK will benefit from Donald Trump's election because of the new president's links with Scotland.
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If Brexit represents the crowning glory in Nigel Farage’s politial career to date, his unlikely ascendancy from the fringes of British life to the international stage should serve as a caution to those who believe his ambitions have been met.

The interim Ukip leader’s unashamed flirtations with Donald Trump have emboldened his self-belief as a scaremongering controversialist willing to say anything should it so happen to further his own interests.

Now that the object of his affections is but two months away from the White House, Mr Farage has chosen to pontificate on matters of government, an issue about which neither he – nor his newfound friend – know little.

According to Mr Farage, a Trump administration will prove a godsend for an already special relationship, explaining in a radio interview how “this is a big opportunity for all British business ... we can now do our first trade deal with the United States of America, isn’t that great?”

Mr Farage noted that the president-elect had previously promised that Britain would be “at the front of the queue,” in stark contrast to the incumbent, President Barack Obama, who, in Mr Farage’s customarily diplomatic language, was dismissed as a “creature”.

The sinister undertones of the latter remark has understandably drawn criticism, but the general thrust of Mr Farage’s comments is no less questionable. He went on to insist that because Mr Trump’s mother hailed from Scotland and he owns Turnberry, it will increase the importance of Scotland and the UK in the eyes of the US.

It may have escaped Mr Farage’s attention, but when Mr Trump takes the oath of office, he will preside over a nation wrought with division, much of it of his own making. He, his cabinet, and his advisers will have to carefully prioritise and pursue their policy plans in order to win the public’s trust and reassure a watching world.

Despite Mr Trump’s track record for promoting his business interests while on political duties, it is hard to see how Scotland and the UK can take priority over IS, Russia and the Syrian civil war, to say nothing of the domestic challenges he will face.

Mr Trump has previously intimated that his businesses will be placed into a blind trust to be run by his children, an arrangement which presumably includes Turnberry and Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeenshire. This doubtless runs counter to his megalomaniacal tendencies, but the extraordinary demands and pressures of the presidency will leave him no choice.

In any case, Mr Trump’s Scottish golf courses, for all their prestige, are hardly the jewels in his empire. He vowed to spend £250m on Turnberry yet has spent just £62m to date on a project which reported a loss of £8.39m last year. Even while running for the highest elected office, Mr Trump has repeatedly broken his promises and switched horses. The man from across the Atlantic who considers himself his kindred spirit – for now – would do well to remember that.