Brexit and the rise of UKIP were “inextricably linked” to the global populist surge of 2016, acting as a predictor for events elsewhere, former White House Chief Strategist and Breitbart Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon has said.
Mr. Bannon was dissecting the populism of 2016 in an interview on the Charlie Rose Show, explaining it as a wave of anti-elitism and a kick back against “incompetent” leaders, over-powerful tech firms, and the negative effects of globalisation on working-class Westerners.
“Brexit and 2016 are inextricably linked – that’s why I started Breitbart London in 2013/2014,” he told Charlie Rose, citing the UK’s growing Euroscepticism and subsequent break from the European Union as an important warning for him.
“Because, I saw this guy [former UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader] Nigel Farage, and this party UKIP, that was a populist party, and anti-establishment party.
“And I said: ‘That’s a canary in a mine shaft. We have to get a group there that sets up and covers that every day like Breitbart covers politics here. Because, by following UKIP, we’re gonna understand the evolution of the Tea Party.”
When asked about Marine Le Pen and the Front National, and their failure to win the election in France, Mr. Bannon said Ms. Le Pen had pursued a left-wing economic agenda, unlike Trump and UKIP.
“There’s no doubt, I think, when you look around the world right now, that the two waves that are going are populism and nationalism,” he said, asking if a left wing or right wing populism would succeed in the U.S. context.
“Now Le Pen is culturally a right winger,” he continued, “but economically, she’s for state control, she’s virtually a socialist, she has a very garbled message. It’s not very clear at all.
“It’s very difficult to galvanise people, because she’s all for state control, for the state to take back control of certain industries. It’s very different from a centre-right coalition.”
Turning his attention back to the UK, he cited the rise of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader as an example of the left wing populism competing with right wing populism at present.
“Right now, it’s Jeremy Corbyn versus the Tories, with UKIP kind’a hanging around as the third party – so [it is] that type of populism, this anti-elite populism, that you see in Sherrod Brown; that you see in Bernie Sanders; that you see in Bernie Sanders voters.
“By the way, in key districts, 15 to 16 per cent of Sanders voters voted for Trump,” he added.