UK Politics

Donald Trump's UK fan club

Donald Trump, right, invites United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage to speak during a campaign rally Image copyright Getty Images

There can be few beliefs which unite Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn.

However, there is one political bogeyman they both seem to loathe - each has laid into Donald Trump with the kind of language usually reserved for Third World despots, or criminals at the far end of the felony spectrum.

Mr Corbyn described Mr Trump's beliefs as "an affront to common humanity", while Mr Johnson joked that he would avoid parts of New York, in case he bumped into Mr Trump while there.

Such a consensus could leave you thinking there is anti-Trump unanimity in Britain, that his brand of populist, no-holds-barred rhetoric may play well in the Midwest, but that it has no place in, for example, the Midlands.

It is a suggestion which angers those Brits who are in fact hoping for a Trump victory and it also confirms their view that the media and political establishment are biased against anyone who challenges their own cosy consensus.

"Trump shoots from the hip, not like a regular politician," Lee Waters tells me. "It's quite refreshing."

Image caption UKIP activists Fran Loi and Lee Waters are enthusiastic Trump supporters

We are sitting in a Nottingham pub, where Lee and his friend, Fran Loi, seem relieved that a journalist wants to hear why they find Mr Trump appealing.

Both are UKIP activists and both stood unsuccessfully as UKIP candidates in the last general election. They believe Mr Trump is being subjected to unfair criticism of a kind that their own party suffered.

"It doesn't matter what he says, he seems to be vilified," says Fran, who particularly approves of Mr Trump's attitude to Russia. "He says he's going to work with Vladimir Putin, whereas John Kerry wants to cut ties with Russia. We don't want a Cold War."

Lee is attracted by Mr Trump's stand on immigration: "If you don't know who the people are who are coming in, you don't know if they are good guys or bad guys. He wants strong controls."

Donald Trump's links to UKIP were brought into focus in August, when he was joined on stage by Nigel Farage at a rally in Mississippi. And there has been repeated speculation that the interim UKIP leader is offering campaign advice to the Trump team, with reports this week that Mr Farage would be a personal guest of Mr Trump at the next candidates' debate.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg says he would vote for Trump, as he is "an equivalent Conservative candidate"

However, Mr Trump's support in Britain extends way beyond this one party, according to Jon Stanley, a commentator for the right-leaning think tank, The Bow Group.

"I come from the north of England," he says, arguing that many people there will be attracted by the same Mr Trump policies as their blue collar counterparts in the US.

"We've almost got used to deindustrialisation… if you're manufacturing things that can suddenly be manufactured in China, your working class people get absolutely stuffed. Donald Trump thinks he can bring these jobs back."

It is promises like this which have helped propel Mr Trump from joke outsider to serious contender and in the process posed a problem for British politicians, because Boris Johnson is not the only prominent Conservative to have taken Mr Trump to task. Back when he was prime minister, David Cameron called Trump's commitment to ban Muslims from the US "divisive, stupid and wrong".

"It's always sensible to be polite about someone who may become president of the United States," cautions the Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg. While not happy to be called a "Trump fan", Mr Rees-Mogg supports some Trump policies and says if he was American, he would vote for Trump simply because he is a Republican.

"I am a Conservative and would usually vote for the equivalent Conservative candidate," he says.

Asked if some of Donald Trump's comments, like calling Mexicans "rapists", put him beyond the pale, Mr Rees-Mogg says British people should not be so judgemental about a democratic process different to their own: "I think a certain humility about other people's elections is prudent."

Image caption Donald Trump has his opponents in the UK, as this urinal in a bar in Nottingham attests

Humility is not really in evidence though at Nottingham's Ragland Road bar, certainly not when it comes to Donald Trump.

Just down the road from the pub where I met Trump's UKIP fans, the Ragland Road bar displays a very different attitude to the Republican candidate - because spread across the urinal in the men's toilets is a giant photograph of Mr Trump.

So wide is the photograph, it is not actually possible for anyone to relieve themselves here, without appearing to make their own, very personal comment on Trump's candidacy.

"Customers think the toilet is absolutely hilarious," says the Ragland Road's manager, Ruth Beraki. "People come in and take selfies and send them all round the world."

She insists the photograph was meant as a joke and should not be taken as a political statement by the bar's owners. Yet, asked why she thinks it is proving so popular, Beraki does not need long to think of the answer.

"There are a lot of people who don't like Donald Trump," she says.

Listen to Paul Moss's report for The World Tonight via the BBC iPlayer.

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