LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) — Lynchburg students got an opportunity Wednesday to hear from a man who led the "BREXIT" movement in Europe.
Nigel Farage was the featured speaker at Liberty University's convocation Wednesday morning.
Farage told students he spent 27 years pushing for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, which officially happened last week.
After his speech, he was asked about the so-called "VEXIT" movement; a push by some to have conservative Virginia counties leave the Commonwealth and become part of West Virginia instead.
"Big government at the center always thinks it knows best," Farage told reporters assembled backstage at Liberty University's Vines Center. "If local people want to make changes, and change their structure of government, they should be able to do so."
Liberty University president Jerry Falwell, Jr. held a news conference last week with West Virginia Governor Jim Justice to announce a movement they dubbed "VEXIT."
Falwell said he believes policies moving forward in Virginia's General Assembly—after November's elections gave Democrats majority control for the first time in decade—have the potential to move Virginia too far to the left.
West Virginia, on the other hand, has a statehouse and state leadership team firmly controlled by Republicans. Gov. Justice initially came into office as a Democrat, but switched parties at a press conference with President Donald Trump in August 2017, saying Democrats left him behind.
There has been push-back against plans by Virginia's Democratic leadership to pass gun control measures such as universal background checks, a one-handgun-purchase-a-month limit, and red flag laws, as well as plans to repeal abortion restrictions.
That push-back has come in the form of more than 100 localities passing "Second Amendment Sanctuary" resolutions and tens of thousands of people rallying outside the Virginia capitol building in support of gun rights.
Justice said whole counties or anyone from Virginia who feels the same way as Falwell is welcome to move to West Virginia, because he says their state supports the policies of Trump wholeheartedly. He said anyone who wants to make West Virginia their new home won't regret it.
He said West Virginia fully supports the Second Amendment and the unborn and has plenty of resources and faith-based people.
Justice said a long time ago, the infringement of fundamental values is really what created the beginnings of West Virginia, and he says the government of Virginia is probably out of step now too. West Virginia split from the commonwealth of Virginia in 1862 after the majority of voters in northwestern counties of what was then Virginia did not support the commonwealth's decision to secede from the union.
Farage said the timing of his visit was merely a "coincidence" and was not related to recent activities surrounding "VEXIT."
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