Former UKip leader Nigel Farage and Leave backer Arron Banks have just returned from the United States, where they helped raise $1million for a ‘Calexit’ campaign, which would split California into two eastern and western regions.
There are several ‘Calexit’ campaigns competing for a referendum in the United States, with one aiming to remove the state from America entirely as a response to President Donald Trump being elected last year.
Farage and Banks, who led the ‘Leave.EU’ campaign, appear to be pitting the eastern, more rural side of California against the western ‘coastal elite’ liberals in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
If broken apart, the eastern part of California would more likely vote Republican, giving the party two more senators and electoral college votes for a 2020 presidential election.
The Western side of the state would likely continue to vote Democrat in elections.
Farage and Banks’ goal is to hold a referendum during the US midterm elections in 2018, according to The Sunday Times.
Banks said of the campaign: ‘It would be portrayed as the Hollywood elites versus the people, breaking up the bad government. Seventy-eight per cent of people in California are unhappy with their government. It’s the world’s sixth largest economy and it’s very badly run.’
Banks said he and Farage wanted to show people in California ‘how to light a fire and win’ the Calexit referendum.
The pair were recruited for the campaign by polling expert Gerry Gunster and Republican Scott Baugh, a former member of the state assembly.
Banks, Farage and their spokesman Andy Wigmore were in California two weeks ago to receive an award for their Brexit campaign from the American Association of Political Consultants.
While in the state, Farage attended several events in Orange County, where Baugh is based, and about $1million was raised for the ‘Calexit’ campaign.
Wigmore said that those who raised money – agriculture tycoons and tech entrepreneurs – have felt ‘left out since [Former President Ronald] Reagan’.
‘This has been done before with West Virginia and Virginia and North and South Dakota, so it can work,’ he said.
Banks added: ‘We were saying that people said the same about Brexit — and we just went and did it. The money was pledged to take it to the next level. This could be the greatest political showdown ever.’
Gunster has helped win 30 state referendums in America and predicted the EU vote within .01 per cent.
In California, 365,800 people have to sign a petition for a proposition to appear on a ballot.
With a population of nearly 40 million, California is one of the most diverse states in America, with whites outnumbered by Hispanics and members of other ethnic groups,
In 2015, it also had the sixth largest economy in the world, according to the International Monetary Fund — ahead of France and India.
In November’s election, the state broke nearly two-to-one in favor of Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Another Calexit campaign emerging, called Yes California, would see the state seceding from America entirely.
Should that initiative make it on the ballot, a ‘Yes’ vote would repeal clauses in the California Constitution ‘stating California is an inseparable part of the United States and that the United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land,’ a statement from California’s Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s office said.
Voters would then need to decide in another referendum in 2019 whether California should become a separate country.
Yes California campaigners are pushing for independence on grounds the state is out of step with the rest of the US and could flourish on its own.
‘In our view, the United States of America represents so many things that conflict with Californian values, and our continued statehood means California will continue subsidizing the other states to our own detriment, and to the detriment of our children,’ according to their website.
Farage, the former UKip leader, was the first British politician to meet Trump after his election win.
He and the other ‘Bad Boys of Brexit’ held a boozy Washington DC party ahead of now-President Donald Trump’s inauguration in January
Farage toasted the billionaire tycoon in front of a rowdy crowd during a speech ahead of the presidential win.
In a speech to the packed room he said: ‘Brexit was great but Trump becoming president is Brexit plus, plus, plus. He was right when he said it was a movement – but a movement can’t exist, or flourish, without a leader. And Trump is the only man I’ve ever met in my life who has made me feel like an introvert.
‘He is a larger than life personality. When he was given the rule book for how you run for president he tore up the book and threw it out of the window.
‘And I guess, when I look back in the years to come, perhaps the greatest joy of 2016 was that realisation, as state after state in the mid-West went red, just to see the faces of those democrats.
‘I’ve spent most my life in politics being regarded, I suppose, as the patron saint of lost causes.
‘Through most of my life, what happens in America in terms of social trends or developments, we follow four or five years later. America is the leader.
‘Now I would like to think in my own little way that what we did with Brexit was the beginning of what is going to turn out to be a global revolution and that Trump’s victory is a part of that.’
Farage said: ‘We’ve had Brexit and perhaps that contributed just a little bit to things changing in the USA and who’s to say that bandwagon won’t continue to roll in 2017 across much of Europe.’
In February, Farage posted a picture of him having ‘dinner with The Donald’ on Twitter.
Finding common ground with some of Trump’s criticism of the political establishment, Farage met the president in November and has offered his services as Britain’s ambassador to the United States – something that has been rejected by Prime Minister Theresa May’s government.
Entitled ‘Dinner with The Donald’, Farage posted a picture of himself smiling at a camera, with Trump and four other people around a table in a photo which gave the location as the Trump International Hotel.