milo yiannopoulos
From left: Milo Yiannopoulos, Donald TrumpTwitter, Reuters

It is not just the American right that has been swayed by Donald Trump's promises of border walls and bans on Muslims. His women-baiting and propensity for saying exactly what is on his mind has won him a cohort of British cheerleaders too.

First among them is Milo Yiannopoulos, the professional contrarian who recently courted controversy by publishing a poll asking whether parents would prefer their children to be feminists or have cancer. Part provocateur, part enfant terrible, Yiannopoulos, aged 32, is 'Trumpkin No 1', with a similar blonde bouffant and queasy business past to prove it. Slightly disturbingly, the ostentatiously gay British media personality refers to Trump as "Daddy".

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Yiannopoulos is currently on a rumbustious campus tour of the US upsetting liberals coast-to-coast, taking in Trump rallies and appearing on US talk shows, where he echoes the sentiments of supporters of the billionaire, who see a Trump presidency as the only hope in the fight against political correctness, feminism and the liberal left.

He sees Trump as a new kind of politician, whose winning of the Republican nomination would represent the beginning of a new era for American politics.

His ostensible day job is as senior editor on Breibart, the radical right website, and recently Yiannopoulos wrote: "Republicans — and other conservative parties in other countries. Having lost faith in their former representatives, they now turn to new ones — Donald Trump and the alternative right."

He added: "In response to concerns from white voters that they're going to go extinct, the response of the Establishment — the conservative Establishment — has been to openly welcome that extinction. It's true that Donald Trump would not be possible without the oppressive hectoring of the progressive Left, but the entire media is to blame for the environment in which this new movement has emerged."

When asked by an interviewer to name the Trump policies he favours, Yiannopoulos replied with a very revealing answer. Trump supporters don't care about the man's policies, he said. "They want to burn everything down."

Whilst Yiannopoulos is a British outrider for Trump, there are echoes of Trump's anti-immigration stance in the UK, most notably in the form of the UK Independence Party (Ukip), which has spearheaded the campaign for Britain to leave the EU, on which the country votes on 23 June.

The rhetoric of Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who warns that immigration is changing the nature of British society for the worse, is very much cut of the same cloth as Trump's attacks on Mexicans and Muslims.

Indeed, the recently launched UK edition of Breibart is canvassing faithfully for Farage and the No campaign in the imminent UK referendum , while blitzing its pages with anti-migrant copy.

Meanwhile, the shadow of Trump has reached across the pond to inform the EU referendum mud-slinging. Staunch europhile and former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg recently dubbed Brexiteer-in-chief Boris Johnson as 'Donald Trump with a thesaurus'.

Indeed, the Republican presidential nominee is due in the UK on the day before the vote on 23 June, on the face of it to open a golf course in Scotland but surely won't miss the opportunity to lob a rhetorical grenade into into the UK political arena at its most momentous moment in over 40 years.

But while there is undeniably been a rise of anti-immigration and anti-refugee rhetoric in both the political and social realm in Britain since the Paris attacks of 2015 and the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe, experts say that the impact of Trump in particular in Britain can be overplayed. "I don't think you can yet point to any specific 'Trump effect' in the UK," said Freddie Sayers at British pollster YouGov.

But equally Sayers sees many of the ingredients of Trump's success – rebellion against an unaccountable system, wage stagnation, suspicion of elites, anger about immigration and globalisation – very much present in Britain as well as in Europe, where there has been a surge in support for extreme right-wing parties. This was most recently seen in Austria, where a far right party came to within an inch of winning power in May 2016.

Unlike in the US, European political systems make it difficult for populist parties to gain power.

A recent survey of 20,000 adults by YouGov in every G20 state found that in every country except Russia, people overwhelmingly preferred Hillary Clinton to be elected US president over Trump. In Russia, he was ahead by 21 points, but in the UK, Clinton was ahead by 34 points, France by 30 and Saudi Arabia by 20 points. Clinton's lead was highest in Mexico, where she is ahead of Trump by a massive 54 points, the result, no doubt, of his stance on Mexican immigration.

As IBTimesUK explored earlier in this series, anti-immigration populism in the US is nothing new. Just as radical right wing politics in Europe has a long and ugly past, so reactionary politicians from George Wallace to Trump have had success in America. Unlike in the US, however, the political systems of many European countries make it difficult for populist parties to gain power.

That was demonstrated in the UK at last year's election, when Ukip got over 13% of the vote but won a single seat in the House of Commons. The Scottish National Party (SNP) meanwhile ended up with 57 seats but only took a 4.7% share of the national vote. The first-past-the-post system has been criticised over the years – including by the Liberal Democrats, who were decimated in the 2015 election – but remains in place.

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Duncan McDonnell of Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia – co-author of the book Populists in Power – has spent years researching populist parties at a grassroots level and cites the pragmatism of their supporters: "They weren't the sort of radical hotheads you expect. They realise they are on a long road. In a way that actually makes them far more dangerous – they have learned to play the game of politics far better," he said.

Britain's antipathy to Trump came to the fore in January 2016, when a petition to ban the billionaire from the country got over 500,000 signatures and was subsequently debated in the House of Commons. MPs spent over three hours criticising the Republican presidential hopeful – variously describing him as "stupid" and "dangerous" – but did not vote as only the Home Office can impose banning orders on individuals.

As Trump won the nomination on May 27, British Prime Minister David Cameron congratulated Trump on what he called an "extraordinary marathon" and would not be drawn on his comments some months earlier that all of Britain would unite against the billionaire following his comments about Muslims: "I believe the special relationship will work whoever is in whichever jobs in the UK or in the US," he said.


This is the first in a week-long series about Generation Trump byIBTimesUK.