Ex-Trump aide Steve Bannon hits back at Nicola Sturgeon over conference snub

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Controversial former Trump White House strategist Steve Bannon has hit back at Nicola Sturgeon's decision to pull out of a conference in Edinburgh today over his appearance.

Bannon is a champion of popular right wing movements which have swept the US and Europe in recent years and is an ally of Ukip's former leader Nigel Farage.

His appearance at the News Xchange conference at the Edinburgh International Conference centre met with protests from about 100 anti-fascist campaigners.

Mr Bannon was interviewed today by the BBC's Scotland editor Sarah Smith who told him that Ms Sturgeon had cancelled a scheduled appearance at the conference when it emerged he was also speaking.

Read more: Protests as ex-Donald Trump aide Steve Bannon heads to Edinburgh
The First Minister didn't want to be part of any process which risked "legitimising far right racist views," Bannon was told.

But the former White House strategist hit back at this characterisation of his politics.

"I think if you look at the elections in the United States over 50% of the people support us," he said.

"These are not racist people. Popular nationalism... is the exact opposite.

"What we're trying to do in the United states is make sure that we're not flooded with illegal, alien labour that suppresses African Americans and hispanics. This is the whole philosophy of Trump's economic programme."

He added: "This is a working class based movement."

Read more: Nicola Sturgeon pulls out of event involving ex-Donald Trump strategist Steve Bannon

Bannon told his audience that "populism is the future".

Next year's EU elections will be marked by the rise of populist movements, on the right and left, which characterised the 2016 US election and saw Donald Trump sweep to victory, he added.