The Brexit result will further energise Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
It is easy to portray both Leavers and Trump supporters in the usual binary way: unenlightened, uneducated racists and bigots. However, there is more to the story.
In the case of Leave, perspectives were much more nuanced, regardless of what politicians, the media and Remainers say.
As a Leaver on PoliticalBetting.com put it on June 25:
The Leave coalition is quite a diverse one, lefty leavers were for Leave as a vote against globalization, centrist leavers supported Leave as a vote for democracy, right leavers supported Leave as a vote against mass immigration.
As Leave politicians said in the televised debates, their supporters favoured common sense over expert opinion.
The EU Referendum was won by people who rejected the political class, the media, corporatism (including big banks), experts and the elite.
On June 20, Tom Harris wrote an excellent column for The Telegraph, one which took issue with the haughtiness of the Remain camp. An excerpt follows:
Not many people would say it outright, but it’s implicit in some of the discussion around this that merely having a referendum is in itself a dangerous thing, a risk we should avoid.
This is obviously stupid on a surface level. We are a democracy, and democracy entails uncertainty. If we’re going to worry about “jitters” whenever we go to a vote, we might as well give up on the idea of voting at all. Focus groups including Welsh plumbers and single parents in Teesside could be disbanded in favour of specialised all-City panels (better dressed, better canapes). We’re not going to do that, so we’ll all have to find it in ourselves to accept the occasional market wobble.
But on a deeper level the saga of the pound also reveals the suffocating, restrictive groupthink which has dominated the last few months. Remain supporters talk less and less of the “positive” reasons for voting Remain, and more and more about how, since everyone else agrees with them, so should you. And another aspect of the same groupthink is the increasingly frequently stated view that, in fact, referendums in general are a bad thing, and that this should be the last one ever.
The little people (those who live outside SW1) just aren’t clever enough to decide on such a complicated issue as membership of the EU. All those facts and figures are just too difficult to analyse for themselves. That’s why we have a parliamentary democracy, so that our MPs can get on with running our lives while we focus on what’s important to us. Like whippets. Or eating fry-ups.
Harris rightly notes that, were it left up to Parliament, nothing would have been done about our place in the EU. David Cameron worked hard at renegotiating various aspects but, in reality, left Brussels with very few concessions.
We cannot be sure that the EU even ratified them.
The innate superiority of Remain was ever-present, as evidenced by this tweet from actor Robert Webb, a Cambridge graduate, who took issue with Boris Johnson’s Independence Day speech in the final debate on the BBC:
Johnson offers ‘hope’ with a clenched fist as a prelude to invoking ‘Independence Day’ to wild applause from thick people.
Television and talk radio journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer addressed similar sentiments in The Telegraph on June 22:
… perhaps you are afraid of being called a xenophobe or a racist or a Little Englander if you want to vote to control our borders? Well, rest assured that the many millions of people who are voting Leave on 23 June are not nasty, bitter old racists who want to go back to the 1950s. This isn’t about closing our borders and turning our backs on the world. On the contrary, this is about escaping the chains of the past and a positive vision for our future in the 21st century global economy. There is absolutely nothing racist or xenophobic about being concerned about the pressures on housing, schools, the NHS, our roads, public transport and community cohesion that years of mass uncontrolled immigration has brought.
In closing on the ‘little people’, betting patterns were interesting, with Remain on top until shortly after 2 a.m. on June 24. A PoliticalBetting.com reader contributed this comment on June 21 explaining why (emphases mine):
Ladbrokes political betting man on Sky News.
Says those betting on REMAIN bet an average of £450 whilst those betting on LEAVE bet on average less than £100.
So rich people placing bets on REMAIN and poorer people placing bets on LEAVE – no doubt based on the opinions of the people they mix with.
Hence the difference between the betting odds which strongly favour REMAIN and the pollsters’ 50/50.
On June 25, The Telegraph published an article discussing Vote Leave’s man behind the scenes, strategist Dominic Cummings, said to have won the referendum. He carefully ran various talking points by focus groups. In the end:
With a group of only 60 staff inside Westminster Tower and minimal resources, Mr Cummings virtually single-handedly plotted an “asymmetric” campaign against almost the entire political and financial establishment …
By early May, he had settled on the three key points that would form the basis for the final weeks of the campaign: a promise to take back control of £350million a week of taxpayers’ spending from Brussels; a promise to take back control over immigration; and warnings that countries such as Turkey and Serbia were in line to join the European Union in the years ahead.
The Remain team brought Obama over to tell us that if we didn’t vote to stay in the EU, we’d be at the ‘back of the queue’ with regard to the United States. More Project Fear. Ho hum.
Lord Ashcroft Polls has this helpful graphic which explains the reasons both sides voted the way they did:
Note the risk averse reasons from the Remain side versus the ‘take back control’ principles from Leave.
The disagreement about national sovereignty was acute. Remain did not even mention it, which recalls this quote from 1939 saying that national sovereignty is the root of all evil:
This Leaver’s letter to the editor (Telegraph?) further illustrates the Remain mindset:
I’ve just mugged a ‘Remain’ supporter — I took £350 out of his wallet, but he didn’t seem to mind.
I felt a bit sorry for him, so I gave him half of it back, but only on the condition that he spent it on things I say he can and that everything he buys should have a picture next to it of me saying I paid for it. He agreed!
We are meeting again tomorrow to do the same thing. He said that it was a fantastic idea and that he wouldn’t be able to survive without me.
Fortunately, wiser heads prevailed on June 23. The Telegraph published this letter on June 25:
SIR – An email that I received early on Friday from a dear Swedish friend said it all: “What you have done will mean so much for so many, and gives us all hope that democracy will survive and is stronger than all those who wish to control us. Thank you.”
What is Donald Trump gleaning from Brexit?
Not surprisingly, Hillary Clinton and Obama sided with Remain. Trump, by contrast, saw it this way. In May, when asked of the possibility of leaving the EU, he said:
I would say that they’re better off without it, personally, but I’m not making that as a recommendation. Just my feeling.
On June 24, he issued a statement on Brexit:
Statement Regarding British Referendum on E.U. Membership
The people of the United Kingdom have exercised the sacred right of all free peoples. They have declared their independence from the European Union, and have voted to reassert control over their own politics, borders and economy. A Trump Administration pledges to strengthen our ties with a free and independent Britain, deepening our bonds in commerce, culture and mutual defense. The whole world is more peaceful and stable when our two countries – and our two peoples – are united together, as they will be under a Trump Administration.
Come November, the American people will have the chance to re-declare their independence. Americans will have a chance to vote for trade, immigration and foreign policies that put our citizens first. They will have the chance to reject today’s rule by the global elite, and to embrace real change that delivers a government of, by and for the people. I hope America is watching, it will soon be time to believe in America again.
He soon followed it up with a tweet:
Many people are equating BREXIT, and what is going on in Great Britain, with what is happening in the U.S. People want their country back!
When he was in Scotland last week to reopen his newly refurbished golf resort at Turnberry, he gave an interview to The Times in which he predicted the breakup of the EU:
“The people have spoken. I think the EU is going to break up. I think the EU might break up before anybody thinks in terms of Scotland.” Trump said in an interview with The Times.
“I really think that without the immigration issue [the EU] wouldn’t have had a chance of breaking up … the people are fed up, whether it’s here or in other countries. You watch: other countries will follow.” Trump added.
I’m less sure that immigration was the primary overall reason. It was the continual loss of sovereignty that many of us found frustrating. Regardless of what pro-EU people say, many European nations’ laws come from EU directives that must be enacted and obeyed, whether those concern weights and measures and fruit shapes or — coming soon — defence policy and tax ID numbers.
Just before Trump went to Scotland, he gave a well-received speech on June 22, in which he explained why he was running for president, his reasons for opposing Clinton — and how he perceives the current state of play in America.
This sounds very similar to Leave’s perspective:
Everywhere I look, I see the possibilities of what our country could be. But we can’t solve any of these problems by relying on the politicians who created them.
We will never be able to fix a rigged system by counting on the same people who rigged it in the first place.
The insiders wrote the rules of the game to keep themselves in power and in the money.
That’s why we’re asking Bernie Sanders’ voters to join our movement: so together we can fix the system for ALL Americans. Importantly, this includes fixing all of our many disastrous trade deals.
Because it’s not just the political system that’s rigged. It’s the whole economy.
It’s rigged by big donors who want to keep down wages.
It’s rigged by big businesses who want to leave our country, fire our workers, and sell their products back into the U.S. with absolutely no consequences for them.
It’s rigged by bureaucrats who are trapping kids in failing schools.
It’s rigged against you, the American people.
That is the Leviathan that Leavers opposed on Thursday, June 23.
Americans will have that same opportunity on Tuesday, November 8.
Brexit proved that every vote counts.
The same holds true for American voters.