Ex-UKIP leader Nigel Farage to attend RNC

Story highlights

  • Farage has spent the last 25 years promoting Euroskeptic politics.
  • It is somewhat unusual that a high-profile foreign political figure would attend the RNC

(CNN)Former UK Independence Party leader and Brexit standard-bearer Nigel Farage will be attending the Republican Convention in Cleveland this week.

The member of European Parliament, who resigned from his position as head of UKIP last month, has spent the last 25 years promoting Euroskeptic politics and campaigning for a British exit from the European Union. Farage claims Americans can learn from Britain's decision to leave the EU.
    USA Today first reported the British politician's visit to Cleveland, and Gawain Towler of the UK Independence Party told CNN Farage will be flying to Cleveland Tuesday.
    USA Today described his participation as an "observer."
    While Farage has praised presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump in the past, telling CNN's Richard Quest in June that the businessman-turned-politician "dares to talk about things that other people want to brush under the carpet," he said he will not be throwing his support behind any candidate.
    "Having criticized President Obama for getting involved in British politics, I am not about to endorse anybody," Farage told USA Today. "But I do know a lot of people in the Republican Party, and I'll be interested to hear what Donald Trump has to say in his big speech."
    The former UKIP leader took aim at the President in April due to Obama's anti-Brexit stances, branding him "the most anti-British American there has ever been."
    "I hope (Obama) will be replaced by somebody rather more sensible when it comes to trading relationships with this country," Farage said.
    In June, Farage told CNN he thought Trump would be "better" than Obama for the United Kingdom.
    Trump celebrated Brexit during a trip to Scotland in June, calling it "a great thing that happened."
    "People are angry, all over the world. People, they're angry," Trump said.
    The RNC referred a request for comment to the Trump campaign, which did not respond.
    It is somewhat unusual that a high-profile foreign political figure, like Farage, would attend a partisan political event like the RNC.
    Lara Brown, program director at the George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management, said it was not uncommon to see low-level staffers and supporters of foreign leaders with similar political persuasions support other foreign political leaders, Farage's stature makes his presence stand out.
    "In some of these Western countries, there do seem to be some of these ideological rumblings at the same time," Brown said. "So in some ways, it does not seem that unusual that there would be some cooperation and an exchange of ideas across systems and across countries."
    Brown used examples of support coming from backers and low-level staffers working indirectly with other foreign administrations, such as Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, as well as Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
    "This is where there is a great deal of commonality and cooperation. Margaret Thatcher was incredibly close with Ronald Reagan. Would I have been surprised if some of her lower-level staffers attended the Republican National Convention in, say, '84? No. But are Margaret Thatcher's people going to go? No," Brown said.
    Trump has received support from many right-wing quarters in Europe.
    But Farage's participation at the RNC is particularly out of the ordinary because Trump is not a world leader at this point.
    "It's unusual because Trump isn't already president," Brown said. Farage "is sort of putting his thumb of the scale for an insurgent candidate who is not dissimilar to him in his desire for disruption."
    When Farage was asked who invited him to speak in Cleveland, he told CNN, "not Trump."