The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Donald Trump just called himself ‘Mr. Brexit,’ and nobody really knows why

Twitter erupted Thursday after Donald Trump took to the social media platform to label himself "Mr. Brexit." The Republican presidential nominee seemingly used the reference to imply that he would win the U.S. election despite a general consensus of polls showing that he trails his rival significantly.

The "Brexit" campaign to extract the United Kingdom from the European Union did stage a comeback victory after trailing in polls. However, three months before the referendum — around the same amount of time remaining until the U.S. presidential election — the Brexiteers had pulled to within striking distance in those polls. Trump cannot claim the same competitiveness.

His Thursday morning tweet caused a great deal of confusion on social media, and "Mr. Brexit" immediately began trending globally. Thousands of users questioned exactly what Trump meant by his triumphal prognostication.

By those reasonable criteria, Mr. Brexit would more probably be either Boris Johnson or Nigel Farage. Johnson spearheaded the Brexit campaign, and Farage's anti-E.U. ideology provided the rhetorical underpinnings of the movement at large. On the other hand, after the anti-E.U. side prevailed in the Brexit referendum and a disappointed British Prime Minister David Cameron resigned, Johnson declined to run for the Conservative Party's leadership, thus shying away from assuming the responsibility for guiding the U.K. through the fraught process of leaving the E.U. Farage, in turn, quit his role as the leader of the U.K. Independence Party.

Instead, Theresa May, who won the Conservative Party's leadership contest, is now tasked with turning Brexit into a reality.

Many in Britain are skeptical that a Brexit will even happen. Some votes in favor of a British exit from the E.U. were certainly votes of protest against a status quo that favored integration with the bloc, which was perceived as a dilution of British sovereignty. But others were a more general protest against London politics. However, the prospect of an economic meltdown should the U.K. lose access to the E.U. single market has even some Brexiteers fretting, along with the spurned "Remain" campers.

For someone now claiming to be Mr. Brexit, Trump has shown little interest or knowledge in the actual Brexit debate. In June, he told reporters, "I don't think anyone should listen to me" about Brexit because he hadn't "really focused" on the matter enough.

And on a trip to Scotland the day after the referendum, he said the Scottish people were thrilled by the vote's outcome — even though the vast majority of people in Scotland had voted against a Brexit.

Read more:

Young Brits are angry about older people deciding their future, but most didn’t vote

Boris Johnson says the darndest things

The rise of Theresa May highlights Brexit’s greatest irony