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Colorado Springs debate pits conservative Brexit architect against former Mexican president

Author: Ellie Mulder, The Gazette - April 4, 2018 - Updated: April 4, 2018

Nigel Farage, considered the architect of Brexit, debated former Mexican President Vicente Fox at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs’ Ent Center for the Arts on April 3. (Ellie Mulder, The Gazette)

COLORADO SPRINGS — The birthday cake presented to Nigel Farage on Tuesday night symbolized his chief political victory.

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MR. BREXIT!” it said. One slice decorated with the British flag had been removed and said simply “LEAVE.”

Farage, considered the architect of Brexit, debated former Mexican President Vicente Fox at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs’ Ent Center for the Arts.

Farage spoke first, praising the nation-state concept of sovereignty and arguing that 2016 – the year of Brexit and President Donald Trump’s election – was the year “when the little people, the ordinary people, the people who’d been oppressed, the people who’d seen their wages go down, the people who’d been sneered at for decades for daring to be patriotic and believe in their nations – 2016 was the year that they kicked back.

“Was it a short-term outburst of anger, as Tony Blair would have us believe, or the blessed Hillary (Clinton) would also have us believe? Was it just the great unwashed, the uneducated, the stupid, the thick erupting with anger, and normal service will shortly be resumed? Well, I say no. I think the great global revolution of 2016 was just the beginning of something extraordinary that is now sweeping across the west,” Farage said.

As Fox prepared to speak, a man stood and began shouting at him. Fox and debate moderator Tom Rogan tried to calm him, saying there would be time for questions and asking him to be civil.

The man yelled: “Civility? This man called my president a s—hole!”

Trump balked at an immigration deal that would protect people from Haiti and some nations in Africa, demanding to know why he should accept immigrants from “s—hole countries” rather than from places such as Norway, The New York Times reported Jan. 11.

Fox took to Twitter later that day, writing: “.@realDonaldTrump, your mouth is the foulest s—hole in the world. With what authority do you proclaim who’s welcome in America and who’s not. America’s greatness is built on diversity, or have you forgotten your immigrant background, Donald?”

The audience member left the auditorium.

Fox then emphasized the importance of taking care of people across the world and working together to progress.

“We 8 billion people on this Earth own this home, and we share this home,” he said. “God did not create borders.”

Farage said he agrees that people should “cooperate and be friendly with other countries,” but with a caveat: “I want us to do it through the model of a nation-state democracy.”

Fox and Farage were in fierce opposition on immigration, however.

“Just look at what Angela Merkel has done to Europe. By being generous, by being nice, she’s invited terrorism into European countries,” Farage said. “I could quite understand why America doesn’t want to go down that route.”

Questioned by the moderator, Fox called Mexico and the U.S. “neighbors” but said Trump “calls us rapists and criminals. He doesn’t like us, but he wants us working for him.”

He said the countries can work together to improve safety and security but said “walls don’t work.”

Fox repeatedly expressed frustration with the way Trump leads the United States.

Speaking to reporters after the debate, he said: “I cannot call him ‘president’ until he behaves like a president, until he governs for every citizen in the United States, not for a few white males that are his followers.”

Ellie Mulder, The Gazette

Ellie Mulder, The Gazette