Political observers aren’t dancing around it — Brexit, many of them say, is a huge win for Donald Trump.
From veteran Republican pollster Frank Luntz and conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos to Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haas and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the acknowledgement is there: The forces behind Brexit are the forces behind Trump.
And Brexit just won at the polls.
“Populism is rising everywhere as people decide that government does not listen and does not care,” Luntz told Business Insider. “But this is even more significant, because Britain has never been the source of populist uprisings like this. If Britain can vote itself out of Europe, America can vote itself in for Trump.”
Blair said the movement that pushed through the British referendum to leave the European Union passing “a strange coming together of populism from the left and right.”
Exactly what Trump needs to win in the fall.
The presumptive Republican nominee himself wasted no time spinning the shock results at the polls into a big win for his candidacy.
“People want to take their country back,” Trump said during a Friday press conference at what turned out to be an extremely well-timed trip to his Scottish golf course. “They want to have independence in a sense. And you see it with Europe, all over Europe. You’re going to have more than just … what happened last night.”
Later Friday on Twitter, he echoed similar sentiment about Brexit was caused by similar forces that are bolstering his candidacy in the states.
“Many people are equating BREXIT, and what is going on in Great Britain, with what is happening in the U.S,” he tweeted. “People want their country back!”
Haas called the unprecedented decision a “warning” to presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during a Friday conference call with reporters, adding that Brexit shows “the potential breadth and depth of disaffection against Washington.”
“We’re seeing opposition to quote-unquote traditional politicians,” he said. “We’re seeing rejection of what had been decades of bipartisan support for free trade. We’re seeing, again, a streak of anti-establishmentism in our politics. So I think what this does is show that what is happening in the United States is by no means unique.”
He added the forces that put Brexit over the top are the same forces that are very close to Trump’s base.
During a Friday conference call of their own, Clinton’s team kept hammering home a counterpoint to the perceived momentum Brexit has for Trump — the US and UK are different.
While Jake Sullivan, the senior policy adviser for Clinton’s campaign, said Clinton is “far from underestimating what is happening out there” and is “acknowledging that “a sense of deep frustration and alienation on behalf of the voters” was part of the reason the British chose to leave the EU — he argued “other factors” unique to the United Kingdom played a big role.
“Hillary Clinton is focused on not what’s happening in the United Kingdom, but rather, what is happening in the United States, what are the uniquely American challenges we are facing and what are the uniquely American solutions that we can bring to address those problems and help working families get ahead.”
Sullivan would later say it’s important to acknowledge that the election this fall “is about what’s happening in America and not what’s happening in Yorkshire” and that Americans “are big-hearted” and “have common sense.”
Clinton’s communications director Jennifer Palmieri outlined a number of ways the two countries are different as well.
When told about the argument that the Brexit vote isn’t indicative of any tide turning in Trump’s favour, conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos called it a “dumb” and “totally bogus and pretty panicky line to take after the fact.” He would add that the two countries are very much alike.
The Breitbart editor, who voted Leave, called the Brexit vote “fabulous for Trump” and the “biggest single sign Trump will win in the fall.”
“The media is completely and totally on one side of the argument,” he said. “Americans have been emboldened by the Brexit vote to think they might actually get what they vote for. And it doesn’t matter if there … it doesn’t matter if these unaccountable remote losers … are calling them names and that they’re crazy for doing this. They’re going to do it anyway and they might just get the president they want. I think it’s going to embolden people to take more risks at the ballot box, and that’s good.”
The potential economic collapse won’t matter to any of these voters, he said.
Already, the pound has collapsed and international markets have plummeted in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.
“Everyone was told this [collapse] was going to happen, and it did happen, and the people who voted for leave were still celebrating anyway when the pound was plummeting because they don’t care,” Yiannopoulos said. “They’re not interested in the global economy. They want to protect their civilisation.”
“Don’t underestimate the frustration of voters upon immigration and trade, Mr. Trump’s two big issues,” he continued. “Brexit just won on the two things Trump complains about all the time. What do you think this is going to do to his campaign? Of course it’s going to be great.”
But like Clinton’s team, not everyone is taking Brexit as a major moment in Trump’s candidacy — or a sign of the impending Trump presidency
Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, echoed that sentiment, telling Business Insider that although both the Brexit vote and the US presidential election are all about domestic factors — those who fear a Trump presidency need not have any additional anxiety because of the British decision.
The move to leave the EU, he added, will lead to a weakening of Europe and likely the disintegration of the supranational governing body. But it won’t happen fast enough for any major impact on the November vote.
And, he said, it won’t have any pull on the voters Trump still needs to swing in his direction.
“This is really not something that will move likely voters that are swing between Trump and Hillary [Clinton],” he said.
Elaine Kamarck, a Harvard professor and former adviser to Vice President Al Gore, told Business Insider that although Americans are “right to worry” about how the Brexit vote will bolster Trump’s candidacy and that anti-immigrant sentiment will be “driving” both votes, there’s a major difference between both electorates.
“Our immigrants get integrated pretty quickly and vote,” she said, later adding, “We have a lot of recent immigrants in American who can vote and are mobilized to vote. Look at his number with Hispanics.”
She expressed surprise though at how great the rallying cry is behind anti-immigrant sentiment in the US.
“Clearly a piece of the American electorate is very worried about this,” she said. “But let’s face it, Europe is in a totally different situation than us because of the situation in the Middle East. There’s a fear of being overrun.”
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