Donald Trump, in a visit to Scotland on Friday, hailed Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, drawing parallels to the anger driving his own presidential campaign.
“I love to see people take their country back,” he said at a news conference at one of his golf courses in Scotland. “And that’s really what’s happening in the United States” and other parts of the world.
The campaign leading to Thursday’s stunning vote for Britain to leave the European Union shared some of the nationalist, populist themes driving Trump’s campaign, including a wariness of immigration, concern about borders and skepticism of the value of multinational organizations.
“I think there are great similarities between happened here and my campaign,” he said. “People want to see borders. They don’t necessarily want people pouring into their country that they don’t know who they are and where they come from.”
Trump, whose visit to Scotland is his first international trip since becoming the prospective Republican nominee, predicted that other nations will follow Britain’s lead.
“This will not be the last,” he said earlier at a ceremony to mark the reopening of the Turnberry golf resort he owns on Scotland’s west coast.
Trump spent most of a 15-minute speech preceding the news conference not talking about the referendum, but offering a detailed accounting of the renovations to the course. Later, while answering questions, he played down concerns that the British economy would be hurt by the vote, suggesting his resort business could, in fact, benefit.
“If the pound goes down, more people are coming to Turnberry,” he said. “I think it could very well turn out to be a positive.”
Trump said this week that he hadn’t closely followed the so-called Brexit campaign but he supported the “Leave” movement.
In a tweet on arrival, Trump said Scotland “is going wild over the vote. They took their country back.” But Scotland had voted firmly to remain in the EU. In fact, Scotland, which voted against independence in 2014, may now hold another referendum on independence in hopes of staying in the EU. Trump said he would support Scottish independence if a vote were held.
Rival Hillary Clinton’s campaign jumped on those statements and Trump’s focus on his business to call his response “dangerous and frightening.” Clinton aides said Trump was “rooting for economic turmoil.”
“He’s not concerned with foreign policy, he’s not concerned with the American people,” said Clinton adviser Jake Sullivan. “He is concerned with himself and that’s it.”
At the news conference, Trump described British Prime Minister David Cameron as “a good man” who “didn’t get the mood of his country right.”
Cameron wanted Britain to stay in the EU and announced Friday that he would step down.
Trump suggested that President Barack Obama, who expressed hopes that Britain would stay in the EU, was partially responsible for the outcome, claiming that some votes were cast to spite him.
“If he had said no to it, I think the vote might have been different. He’s constantly dictating what the world should do,” he said.
Trump also criticized Clinton, who sided with Obama, for “misreading” the situation. Clinton issued a statement saying the economic uncertainty sparked by the vote “underscores the need for calm, steady, experienced leadership in the White House.”
When asked if he had spoken to his foreign policy advisers about the vote, Trump said “there was nothing to talk about” and that a Trump administration would continue to count Britain as a close ally.
Trump’s reason for his trip to Scotland wasn’t politics, but to check on a pair of championship-level golf resorts he owns there. Trump spent Friday morning marking the $200 million-plus rehabilitation of Turnberry on the rocky Atlantic coast.
Trump’s news conference on the green of the course’s 9th hole underscored the frequent co-mingling Trump’s campaign with his businesses.
Several dozen protesters demonstrated outside the resort but were kept at a distance from the candidate and the course. But one man, wearing a Turnberry fleece, briefly interrupted the news conference by tossing a box of golf balls emblazoned with the Nazi logo.
Trump’s son, Eric, who oversaw the work at Turnberry, dismissed talk that the family’s business was distracting his father, telling The Associated Press “the eyes of the world” will be on Trump.