Steve Bannon is back, acting as a “surrogate” for President Donald Trump—at least according to him. In fact, a report by Politico’s Annie Karni shows the disgraced former White House strategist and former CEO of Breitbart News having set up shop in London at an unnamed “five star hotel” to meet with far-right figures from the U.K. and continental Europe in advance of the president’s visit with Prime Minister Theresa May. On July 11, Karni reported on her visit to Bannon’s “war room”:
Louis Aliot, a right-wing French politician and boyfriend of the French populist firebrand Marine Le Pen, walked through the lobby to a conference room tucked away behind the restaurant serving afternoon tea. So did Nigel Farage, the right-wing British politician and Brexit mastermind whom the local tabloids say is “banned” by his government from meeting with Trump during his visit.
It was Farage who led the charge for the U.K. to exit the European Union, advocating for the “Brexit” referendum that passed in 2016. Cambridge Analytica, a political data firm in which Bannon was a principal, helped Leave.EU, an organization on the pro-Brexit side. (Cambridge Analytica has since folded in the wake of a scandal over the manner in which it obtained and used data from Facebook users’ profiles.) Farage is an anti-immigration hardliner who once told a radio host that he’d be “uncomfortable” living next door to a Romanian family.
Also on hand, Karni reported, was Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of The Bow Group, a longstanding London conservative think tank that has, of late, aligned itself with right-wing populist movements. The Bow Group was affiliated with Leave.EU at the time of the referendum.
“We’re trying to tell the story that there is a strong well of support [for Trump],” Harris-Quinney told Karni.
Bannon, famous for his anti-Muslim rhetoric, told Karni that he had come to London to “contextualize Trump” for a European audience.
Later that evening, he appeared on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” show, discussing a number of topics, including the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary. On that topic, he sounded remarkably like U.S. Religious Right leaders.
“The way [Trump] is redoing the federal judiciary in a very methodical process—right?—to go to people who have a lot of written opinions, to go to the originalist for the Constitution—it’s going to have a dramatic impact,” he told host Sean Hannity.
The Fox News host is known to be a close adviser to Trump, and was revealed in a federal court as a client of Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who is now under criminal investigation. Hannity has also trafficked in conspiracy theories about the murder of a young staff member of the Democratic National Committee in 2016.
Bannon’s contextualization did little to repel the thousands of protesters who turned out on the streets of London in response to the president’s visit. However, Trump’s disparagement of U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May—for the “soft Brexit” deal she’s negotiated with the E.U. and the purported ravages of immigration on European culture—appears to follow the Bannon playbook quite closely.