Despite his obvious distaste for Hillary, Farage, not one to hold back, also had some criticisms of Trump saying he has “made a lot of mistakes.” He also noted Trump’s tendency to go off script saying that his “acceptance speech in Cleveland appeared to be disjointed” and “didn’t flow“. That said, in the end, he points out that everyone makes mistakes noting that “virtually everyone thought that Ronald Reagan was unfit to be the US President before he made a huge success of his two terms.“
Since I announced that I was going to stand aside as Ukip leader in the wake of the successful Brexit campaign, I’ve had more time to do other things.
This included a trip to Cleveland for the Republican Convention and the adoption of Donald J. Trump as their Presidential candidate.
I was astonished that everybody I met wanted to talk about Brexit – not just the delegates to the convention but ordinary people, including a group of US Navy veterans who told me we should have done it years ago.
There was a chance meeting, in a bar of course, with the delegation from Mississippi.
They were wildly enthusiastic Brexiteers and told me that their State Governor Phil Bryant was delighted with the result and would love me to visit.
So in what I thought would be the quiet days of August, I was happy to accept their invitation.
The plan was simple: I would speak at a dinner hosted by the Governor to speak about the Brexit campaign and to draw parallels with voters in America, who are looking for many of the same things.
It was not until I arrived and was having dinner at the magnificent Governor’s Mansion in Jackson that I was told that on the following evening there would be a rally at which up to 15,000 people would come to hear Trump.
Governor Bryant said he would like me to speak. I could scarcely believe it as I knew that no UK politician had ever spoken at a Republican election rally.
The Trump campaign has been highly controversial. Some of his comments have not looked good and left him open to accusations of extremism.
At times he has appeared quite aggressive on the platform. I was curious: what would the man be like in person?
We met at a private gathering of major Mississippi donors to his campaign. I was surprised, even slightly overwhelmed, by the warmth of his welcome and his huge support for Brexit.
As he said to me: ‘Smart thing to do.’
We talked for a few minutes and then I headed off to the Coliseum, the venue for the night’s extravaganza.
I had never addressed a public meeting in the US before and certainly never spoken to a crowd of 15,000. I was anxious.
But I was told not to worry, it would be OK. I’d be one of the early speakers, they said, and hardly anyone would listen to me as they would be waiting to hear from the main man.
So I waited in the wings – surrounded by swarms of stern- faced US Secret Service agents.
Then, minutes before the event began, I was told there was a change of plan. Donald would introduce me. I couldn’t really believe what I was hearing.
One of his aides said: ‘He’s gonna be your warm-up.’
There were several well-known American politicians milling around, including Rudy Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York City, a man I have long admired.
He was desperate to speak, and had expected to, so was more than a little surprised and none too pleased to be told that the Brexit Englishman was going up instead.
Trump took the stage to riotous applause and began to make his speech. About halfway through he moved on to the Brexit victory.
And then he called me up on stage.
I told them that Brexit was the victory of the little people over the Establishment. They went wild.
I told them that if you can motivate non-voters to engage with the electoral process that anything was possible.
I did not endorse Trump, because I had condemned President Obama for telling us what to do in our referendum.
But I did say that if I was a US citizen I would not vote for Hillary Clinton even if she paid me.
The atmosphere in the room was more like a rock concert than a political meeting.
I know from speaking in hundreds of chilly village halls to audiences of 50 people or fewer in the early years of Ukip that this was an experience that for me would probably never berepeated. And I must say I loved every second of it.
So what now do I think of Trump and his campaign? Often business people don’t make good politicians.
They are used to having their own way and fire off lots of ideas, many of which are completely forgotten by the following morning.
But in politics if you think out loud and throw ideas into the mix they simply can’t be thrown in the waste bin as they get analysed and often ridiculed by the media pack.
Trump is very new to politics and has made a lot of mistakes.
When I watched his acceptance speech in Cleveland it appeared to be disjointed. It simply didn’t flow.
But what I saw from just a few feet away in Jackson was something different. He was a better and more confident speaker.
He stuck in a disciplined manner to a script. I sensed that his new campaign team have him on the right track. I really don’t believe that he is the monster painted by many.
It is worth remembering that virtually everyone thought that Ronald Reagan was unfit to be the US President before he made a huge success of his two terms.
Trump has embraced Brexit and all of the principles that led to that historic vote. Most of the crowd I met after the rally had never voted in their lives.
They are the same people who made Brexit happen. They see Washington as distant and aloof, just as many Leave voters saw rule from Brussels.
The issue of open and loose borders in an age of increasing terrorist risk may well dominate western politics for many years to come.
Trump is strong on the immigration message and he is connecting, to the horror of the Washington establishment.
Hillary represents the status quo where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. She is part of the Establishment that has led us into an endless series of wars.
The Trump campaign is now about change. Having met him and having spoken to him, I am far less worried. If he becomes US President he will be able sensibly to make the big decisions.
The morning after the convention I woke up wondering whether all of this had really happened. But I saw on US television that overnight there had been a bounce in the polls for Trump.
There was a renewed confidence among the Mississippi Republican team and a feeling the Trump campaign had turned the corner.
A very rattled, anxious-looking Hillary Clinton responded in a press conference and attacked my presence on the stage with Trump. She trotted out a series of wilful misinterpretations of things that I had said.
It was a similar kind of demonisation used by George Osborne and many of the Remain camp on me during the referendum campaign.
Along with Bob Geldof, Hillary simply cannot accept Brexit and still thinks it’s wrong to even talk about immigration.
She represents the failed past and would do better going out meeting American voters rather than attacking me.
Perhaps if I donate to the Clinton Foundation her views on me might soften.
It does seem a little strange that I am now being used as a political football in the American presidential campaign. But it shows that Brexit is a truly global event.
Which brings me back to Theresa May, who has said that Brexit means Brexit. Given there is now a global debate on this issue she had better mean it.
So far I have given her the benefit of the doubt. And I like the appointment of the three Brexiteers to do the job.
But she must not take too long to declare Article 50 and to set the clock ticking. By the end of this parliamentary term – 2020 – we must be out of the bureaucratic single market, have control of our borders and have regained our territorial fishing rights.
Anything less than this will be a betrayal of 17.4 million voters and would lead to huge public anger in this country and lead to even more dramatic political change.
This is already in the air at Ukip, with the leadership campaign. We have been a hugely successful political party.
We forced the issue of EU membership into mainstream debate in this country and without us there would have been no referendum.
We also managed to get many non-voters to turn out on June 23 and I’m proud of our achievements.
So Ukip needs to remain strong, to continue to be a threat, and has an opportunity gifted by Jeremy Corbyn’s dragging of the Labour Party into Left-wing irrelevance.
I won’t comment on any of the leadership candidates – I will support whoever wins. But Ukip’s management and decision making processes are no longer fit for purpose.
The days of being run by elected, often wholly inexperienced volunteers through a national executive committee are over.
The new leader needs to be able to make decisions and to genuinely lead.
He or she will need a team of real professionals to take Ukip to the next stage. The opportunities for the party are still great.
But it needs real change if it is to continue to prosper.